Kristen Fife Blog Kristen Fife Blog Wed, 17 Dec 2008 23:01:58 +0000 en hourly 1 The Pros and Cons of Using Wed, 31 Dec 2008 15:07:03 -0800 Conquent
From a recruiting standpoint and as someone that helps a lot of people in this arena, here are some suggestions and observations.

1 ) Monster is the largest resume database in the world. Period. Given a choice of the top three for database mining, many recruiters will choose Monster as the best place to *post* their jobs bceause it is so well known and is the default for job hunters. For this reason, it is worthwhile for a candidate to post their resume/s.

2 ) Monster (and any other job board) is one of the few instances I counsel my resume clients to *use targeted objectives* to cover what you DON'T want. IE, Objective: seeking a contract or full-time graphic design opportunity in the Seattle area only. Currently not pursuing sales or commission only positions.”

3 ) If you are currently in the job market, I suggest setting up job search agents. The Quick Apply feature also works pretty well if you have a significant skill set.

4 ) Remember that once your resume is in an agency database you don’t need to keep applying via Monster or the website. You are better served contacting the agency via phone directly and asking to speak to a recruiter about a specific position.

5 ) The confidential mode: this does save you from spam, I would suggest that you put something on your resume (similar to the objective) stating that you will reply to all inquiries for positions of interest in your field/s of experience and expertise. And, if you upload your resume as an attachment, remember to take your contact info *off* if you are using the confidential feature. I cannot tell you how many resumes I’ve opened on “confidential” mode to find full contact info. (This also includes the name you use for your document…putting “susie.smith.SDE” is an invitation for them to google your name+Acme Widget as an employer.)

6 ) With the sheer volume of candidates on the market now, many recruiters are resorting to Monster just because it’s familiar, it’s fast and easy. The resume search functionality is very user-friendly. I’d say you have a better than average shot at using it.

7 ) Regarding your resume from 4 years ago showing up, keep in mind that a lot of agencies mine the *entire* database. A good recruiter looks at older resumes because they are considered to be “passive” candidates, which is something that is sought after in the recruiting world. Also, many agencies keep huge databases that archive resumes going back years and they may be pulling you from their own database when they call you, not directly from Monster *today*.

8 ) In the last couple of years, the EEOC has instituted some pretty strict regulatory practices that have shifted the way many corporations recruit. Without going into a lot of compliance jargon, nowadays a good percentage of employers *require* you to apply via their website. And, if you don’t do so, you cannot be considered for employment. Monster and most of the job boards have interfaces that allow job postings and their application process to be merged to make it easier on candidates. This makes it much easier on recruiters for posting their jobs and getting applicant pools that are more manageable.

9 ) Refreshing your resume: if you open your profile and hit “edit” even if you don’t make any changes, it does bubble to the top of keyword searches.

It really boils down to how much work you want to put into your job hunt; if you are being truly thorough and exploring *all* avenues, it only makes sense to put your information up on Monster.
Supply and Demand Tue, 3 Feb 2009 12:39:14 -0800 Conquent
But one thing they failed to take into account is that when X% of the population goes "back to school", then X% of the workforce will have the same academic credentials when they emerge, thus *lowering* the demand for, say, an MBA.

I feel deeply concerned for the college graduates coming out with degrees in Finance and Accounting. With the collapse of the financial sector in the US last year in October, seasoned professionals with years of experience as well as their CPA's or advanced degrees are now a "dime a dozen", so to speak.

I'm not advocating against an advanced degree, or even changing your career by obtaining an additional degree, but just suggesting that when considering going back to school that the motivation is valid and that you aren't further diluting your job opportunities. ]]>
Why video resumes *don't* work Tue, 10 Feb 2009 13:24:49 -0800 Conquent
But here's the thing: they aren't *listening* to what recruiters are telling them.

There is a huge issue with discrimination potential. And, that discrimination isn't even just from a recruiting perspective; there are several studies conducted over the last decade that show that societally we are predisposed to discrimination:

Attractive people make more money, are seen as more reliable, and generally have an advantage over their homelier counterparts. Below are just a very few articles referencing these studies.

Add to that the cost involved with producing a video resume, and the *lack* off access to it, and you are basically saying that people who have money to go to a videography service have a better shot at getting a job. Today, anyone can go to a library, or local unemployment office and type up a resume and use free email to send it off.

Not only that, but who cares if someone reads a scripted document that tells me how wonderful they are?

I can see there being a market for *live* videoconferencing for interviews. I've used this option myself in the past, and it has been successful. But for now, just email me a resume I can search and look at and call it good. ]]>
HR and Compliance Thu, 19 Feb 2009 11:05:26 -0800 Conquent
HR folks are responsible not for the "human" part of the equation but the"resources" and the management of those resources. Yes, an HR Generalist or HR Manager does deal with employees, but usually only under specific circumstances such as reviews, onboarding as new employees, insurance enrollment, and sadly either in times of stress or exit interviews.

Being an HR professional means knowing a lot of different laws. Being a recruiter means knowing a lot of laws. Being a hiring manager, especially of a small business, means being responsible not only for those laws but also their execution.

Last night I was at a career panel with several other women, and one of them was expounding on her long career as a business owner and manager. She made a comment that startled me, being in the Northwest. She said that she doesn't hire anyone with visible piercings and tattoos (other than pierced ears.)

I was also having this discussion over on LinkedIn in the Answers section. A Diversity specialist posted a question asking recruiters' opinions on body art. Basically, I believe we have entered a period in history where body art is mainstream, it is a form of personal expression and the employer that doesn't accept that loses out on the talent and creativity of the generation under 40 (and some of us over forty).

I believe that someday there will be legalization stating we cannot discrimminate based on body art. If this happens, I'm not sure if that is a bad thing or a good thing. But I believe that hiring professionals need to be cognizant of the realities of todays' workers. The old prejudices are getting just that...old. ]]>
Career Crossover Filters Fri, 20 Feb 2009 08:25:14 -0800 Conquent
Last night I was at a talk given by the Pacific Northwest Writer's Association on the topic of Query Letters.

Query Letters are short documents an author sends to Editors and Agents trying to interest them in purchasing the book. Each publishing house/literary agency has different guidelines for what they want included in a query letter.

I've always thought of the Query Letter as being the equivalent of a resume. But last night, my viewpoint completely changed. Now, I see it as the equivalent of a resume. This makes sense, because as a recruiter, I rarely have time to read a cover letter; I usually go straight to the resume itself.

The purpose of the Query is the same as the Resume: get the reader's attention enough in the first few lines to make them want to read more.

We all have filters in our lives that we use to compartmentalize our experiences. For me, those filters will be completely unique to anyone else. Seeing the Query as a Resume really makes a huge difference for me when it comes time to write them. ]]>
Guarding Your Professional Brand Sun, 22 Feb 2009 09:47:26 -0800 Conquent
But it's just as important for the individuals in a business/organization to guard their own brand; in this case, it is twofold. As both a representative of the organization, but also as a professional in their own right.

This whole thought is forming from a LinkedIn Question that was posted under "recruiting and staffing". A Director of Recruiting Services asked the question "Is it legal to check a candidate's employment history without their permission?"

OK, first of all if you are a *director* in any profession, you should be an expert on the basic legal compliance issues of your industry. This particular individual has just destroyed all credibility as a knowledgable professional.

Second, putting this sort of a question out on a forum such as LinkedIn smacks of laziness. There are numerous free resources on the internet to consult with, especially in the US with the Department of Labor. I have a few pet peeves with the use of community sites for "quick fix" questions, so I admit a bias in that regard. I moderate a 3700+ member global Yahoo Group and I regularly post reminders to search the archives before posting a common question.

Finally, putting all these impressions together creates a picture of a minor-league "professional" with very little business sense, no idea how to utilize the plentiful resources out there, and a time drain on colleagues and other professionals in our industry. ]]>
How *NOT* To "Network" Wed, 25 Feb 2009 08:14:04 -0800 Conquent
So, if recruiters are looking for those that are employed, and you are *unemployed* how do you make yourself look more desirable to potential employers?

First and foremost: do *not appear desperate*. All over the place I see social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etc.) profiles that scream "I'm looking for a job as ZYW in Anytown USA."

OK, this is *totally* the wrong way to go about marketing yourself. First of all, this is a major turn-off for potential employers. If you are this unsubtle in the world of social media, how do you think they are going to look at you as a representative of the company? Uh huh. Not very professional and certainly someone that doesn't understand the meaning of business "subtlety". It also shows that you don't understand how to cultivate business relationships or make value-add connections.

Networking is about 1:1 personal relationships. It *is not* about trying to get yourself in front of as many people as humanly possible. That mentality is akin to the old "shooting fish in a barrell" concept.

It is crucial to use social media and networking tools effectively. This means being calm, cool, collected and professional in how you approach others. It is fine to let someone you are networking with to know that you are seeking new opportunties, be it by attrition or a RIF (Reduction In Force or layoff). But screaming it to all and sundry on the internet is the fastest way to lose face with those that could potentially help you. If you cannot market yourself in a way that is positive, why on earth would they want to pass your profile along to their colleague that is hiring? So do yourself a favor; spend the $25 to get a business license, set up shop as an independent business owner, and cultivate *clients*. Whether you do any actual work, as long as you appear to be doing something with your credentials and expertise you will come across as a professional. ]]>
The role of Corporate America, and recruiting, in the job situation Mon, 2 Mar 2009 10:19:38 -0800 Conquent
The first thing that this response hits me with is that the person responding obviously doesn't understand *me* (more about that in a moment.) Before I share the response, I want to share some information regarding recruiting "philosophy". It has always been the "holy grail" of recruiters to engage the "passive candidate". That is someone that is happily employed elsewhere and not looking. The thought process behind it is that someone that isn't looking is most likely going to be a better employee, because obviously they are making an impact where they are, and they are more likely to be a top performer.

In times of plenty (like the mid-90's through 2005/6) that may be true. The reason I bring this up is because of part of the comment I received as a response:

"If your group maintains a bias for "passive candidates", it is more a part of the problem with our economic recovery than the solution".

I happen to agree with this person, but he obviously doesn't know *me*. I wrote a recruiting blog about this very mentality last summer.

<A href="" target="_blank">Redefining the "passive" candidate's importance in recruiting</A>

This is really giving me a lot of food for thought, and I'm trying to share it with my recruiting colleagues, but it's really an uphill battle. ]]>
The Disturbing Trend of Ageism in the Work Place Thu, 5 Mar 2009 11:50:59 -0800 Conquent
I've also seen a lot of commentary in my social networks pointing to ageism as a factor in hiring. Why pay someone what they are *worth* with 20+ years of experience when you can hire someone half their age for peanuts?

In the US, we don't value wisdom and experience as much as other countries. Our culture is obsessed with youth. I think this is one of the most unnatural, misplaced, idiotic cultural values out there. I blame it on the entertainment industry for the most part.

Although age discrimination is illegal, when there is a glut of unemployed professionals in the workforce, it is oh so easy to look at the candidates with more experience and the younger *cheaper* candidate and then to rationalize that the older candidate is "too expensive".

I come from a family that values education. My mom went back to school in her 50's to get her Master's in Social Work. She has a long health care history, and that makes her a valuable employee in a healthy field, even now in her sixties.

One of the things we at Conquent value is *experience*. It is not dependent on how young/old you are. It's a matter of whether or not you have the skills and cultural fit for what we need. Sometimes a green fresh college graduate, with a different perspective and new ideas will fit the bill better than someone that has been in the field for a decade or more. And then there is the fact that sometimes our clients need a seasoned professional that understands the greater business world and can quickly "hit the ground running" without a long learning curve.

Companies need to evaluate factors beyond "cost". Look to the experience and balance a *broad* corporate population brings to the table. And quit thinking of ways to "bend" the law to save a few bucks.

Insights and Responses to my Ageism Issue Mon, 9 Mar 2009 12:23:26 -0800 Conquent
I disseminated my recent views on ageism in recruiting/HR far and wide, and the response was, to say the least, overwhelming and quite interesting. So, I have posted the various comments (anonymously) here for persual. I sent the posts with requests for input to HR/Recruiting groups in WA, OR, and CA as well as a women in technology listserv I am on. All in all, about 5,000 people saw this posting. This is by no means a *scientific* or even measurable study; it is simply a compilation by members of communities I am involved in.

Responses are in no particular order unless they are part of multiple-response thread.
Original Post (by me):

I've seen a very disturbing trend the last few weeks in my network. People over 40 being "laid off" and the RIF being attributed to "financial reasons", and recruiters focusing on the younger workforce pool.

Has anyone else seen this?


I've noticed this trend for over 10 years.

"Seems" to be the trend. I'd be very curious to see the other responses you receive on this.
Simple economics...some companies choose to lay off more experienced (and hence more costly) employees to make room for less experienced, cheaper labor...other companies, like British Petroleum for example, have been selectively rolling out 10% pay cuts for some of their divisions.
Yes, my husband was laid off last year. A decrease in sales performance was the reason given, but it is known that he was one of the higher paid managers (with 30 years of industry experience). Within the same month, several other "seasoned" managers were also laid off. He had to take a 20% pay cut with his next job because it is an employer's market. Employers can drive the compensation down setting a new industry standard. This is the time to stay put if possible. If not, expect to take a pay cut!
Yes it is hard to find a c ompany that will hire those of us who are of an "advanced age'. And age discrimination is the most difficult to prove. However, even though it may be hard to prove it is not impossible. And I feel that we basically have two choices, accept defeat and just keep applying anywhere and everywhere or we can file a complaint with the EEOC. You don't have to try and prove it alone. In addition to EEOC if the company holds a federal contract you might be able to file a complaint with OFCCP.

If you think you have been wronged then you owe it to not just yourself but to all of those who are in a similar circumstance. The economy sucks big time. More and more people are losing their jobs. But if a business or company gets enough complaints against them sooner or later someone is going to take notice and start looking at them under a microscope for the way they are going about hiring and firing people.

I know it isn't much, but it is better than saying "Oh Well".

Just thoughts
Yes, my company and myself are a prime example of this. Out of a group of 12 employees 6 of us are over 50, 3 over 40 and 3 in their late 30's most of us long term employees and therefore at a higher salary rate.
I would agree that not many companies seem to be hiring over 40. I have been recieving many resumes in the past few months and many seem to be people in that age range. One thing that could turn off hiring managers is looking at apps of the over 40 group and seeing large wages and thinking that these individuals may not take job offers or may not be very motivated to work hard if their compensation is much lower than what it had been in the past. I know I have felt that way looking through resumes when the job we have is advertised at $13.00 per hour and their past wage was $25/ hr.
I wonder if it's just a short term trend you observed. There was an interesting article in the Feb 9th print edition of Business Week regarding called "In this recession, older workers are keeping their jobs" focusing on how workers over 55 are the ones who tend to be kept on during all the downsizing we are seeing. You might be able to find the article on their web-site.
I have always thought that it would be interesting to do a survey of over 40's and over 50's who either can not find employment or who have just given up looking because they have looked for so long. It also might be interesting to find out how many have found a job and for what salaries. And what is the difference between the age ranges. It sure would help the more senior professionals get a handle on their chances. I sure wish I would have know ahead of time what an up hill battle I was going to face.
I was recently laid off and I have the data sheet used by the company showing ages of those “released” and those retained. There is a clear case of a skew in favor of the younger group and my attorney is pursuing this to gain a more favorable severance package.
Kristin, yes, not only this. I have also seen the HR recruiting folks getting younger and younger and sadly, they havent a clue what value a more mature worker will bring to the table. We are just "older workers with higher salaries, potential medical liabilites and ideas "stuck in the past" (all not true- well, maybe the higher salary part, but, it's because of all we bring) sad times!


Here in the silicon valley ageism is keenly applied to those over fifty. It could begin earlier as well. I filed two complaints with the EEOC and got nowhere. Nobody seems to care!

So well intentioned as I am, I would consider following the trail of your "hollywood"
bank robber. But I lacked the nerve!


Monday mornings I attend a (Seattle area) Worksource networking event. The meeting has grown from about 15 - 20 people to easily double that if not more and not one of the people attending is under 30 (well maybe a couple).


First of all, I am 64 yrs old and have more then 37 yers of experience in HR, IR and Recruiting. I agree that all too often people over 40 use "discrimination" as a crutch to help themselves justify their inability to find employment.

I would love to hire "seasoned workers" but all to often I find those over 40 are stuck in thinking the processes? learned 25 yrs ago are still the best . They often make it plain that they still like the "old" way better. They have resisted change and in doing so are no longer able to communiate effectively with younger individuals.

My advice to all over 40 is to "get with the program" The world of HR is rapidly changiing every day - new legislation-new behaviorial theories, new ways to find candidates etc.

If you have fallen behind the times It is your responsibility to get caught up, Learn , learn. learn. Do not fear change. Listen to some RAP music, talk to today's youth( they really are amazing)., get a new hair style, buy a pair of red shoes :)

Accept new ideas and processes, embrace change and you may find that you will outlast younger employees in tight times or if you have lost your job you will be considered as a great candidate as you have kept current , you don't think old, and you have a great attitude.
If you think OVER 40 is bad...wait til you get OVER 50 (or more). As a Career Consultant during the post 911 layoff crises I worked with alot of laid off workers and it is pretty clear discrimination is rampant. I have also heard comments by some HR folks that are troubling in this regard. One internal recruiter told me she would never send any "gray haired' guy to certain managers because she knew they wouldn't be hired. From a strategic point of view I can understand her position---she is busy and why waste her time as well as that of the manager or the candidate. But from an ethical and legal position it is indeed disturbing. Of course, I don't mean to imply all recruiters operate in this way, but I think it happens more than we care to believe.

I think the field of HR has an opportunity and responsibility to be a real leader in regard to age discrimination--as well as other forms of discrimination (gender, race, ethnicity, etc.). There is an opportunity to educate managers about the value of "experienced" workers as well as, of course, the potential liabilities associated with discrimination. I know many HR folks who are quite vigilant, outspoken and real champions for this cause.....but there are others who take the easy way out, by avoiding confrontation and pretending not to see.

Of course, age discrimination also occurs on the other end with the 20 somethings being turned down for jobs they are competent to serve, especially if they are "young looking".

Discrimination will end when we truly hire, fire, develop and promote for purely performance-based reasons. I think we are still a ways away from that reality.


I am more concerned about layoffs than hiring, to be honest. And for anyone, it is imperative that they understand that they will most likely need to take a pay cut.


Yes it is hard to find a c ompany that will hire those of us who are of an "advanced age'. And age discrimination is the most difficult to prove. However, even though it may be hard to prove it is not impossible. And I feel that we basically have two choices, accept defeat and just keep applying anywhere and everywhere or we can file a complaint with the EEOC. You don't have to try and prove it alone. In addition to EEOC if the company holds a federal contract you might be able to file a complaint with OFCCP.

If you think you have been wronged then you owe it to not just yourself but to all of those who are in a similar circumstance. The economy sucks big time. More and more people are losing their jobs. But if a business or company gets enough complaints against them sooner or later someone is going to take notice and start looking at them under a microscope for the way they are going about hiring and firing people.

I know it isn't much, but it is better than saying "Oh Well".


Due to the economic woes, it is an employer's market. For those of us that are looking for work, you might be over 40 however if during the interview you are skill sets are not strong then yes someone younger will earn the right to be offered the job. I was a member of a interview panel on Thursday Three people were interviewed. The first interviewer was over 40 did a good job in presenting her skills. She was used to earning a higher salary however understood that she may have to take a pay cut.
The second interviewer was over 40 seemed inflexible, did not do a good in presenting herself. She was willing to work for less. The third interviewer was under 40 did a good job presenting her skills and was flexible. When asked about salary she was willing to accept whatever the company offered. The first and third person will have second interviews next week.

I understand that some individuals over 40 should earn more money and in a fair world, you will be properly compensated but while companies are struggling financially companies have had to make tough decisions which have included, laying people off, pay cuts, early retirements, cutting hours, only filling essential positions and hiring people earning less money. Only
you know your situation, it is not about age but if you demand to make a certain amount of money and are not willing to understand that the company may not be able to pay you what you believe you are worth, there are hundreds of other individual, ready, willing and able to work for less.

I help individuals over the age of 18 find employment and old or young when you want to make so much money you will find yourself still unemployed. Companies, the government and individuals have had to make adjustments to their income, we must do so as well in order to survive.

Times have changed and we must change as well. Also you may have years of experience however if you interviewing skills are not sharp you will not stand out amongst the crowd. When interviewing, it is a package deal.


I recently conducted two workshops on job search strategies, resume development and networking at <a client's> and 95% of the attendees were over 40.


I sometimes wonder if it is the 40+ age group of candidats who go to these types of resume buiding workshops because they understand the value and it has been quite a while since they have looked at their resumes or have interviewed.

Let's face it, if I was fresh out of college and laid off, my resume is still very current and I've been interviewing most recently. The younger population also has typically less financial burdens and my live off of unemployment just a
bit longer than someone who's supporting a 25 yr. mortgage with college kids and admissions fees. More food for thought...


A little note of caution. One thing I have seen repeatedly during a downturn is employees over 40 crying about age discrimination. These same folks when under 40 were the first out and last back in the previous downturn. I just see too many people use it first as an excuse and then as a crutch and ultimately rationalizing that they can't get a job solely
because they are over 40 and act accordingly.

If you are over 40 and command more money to do a job that someone under 40 can do just as well and for less, what do you think might happen??? If your years of experience are not worth the extra money, they aren't worth the extra money, and that's just economics.

As far as complaining, the HR community in certain areas is a VERY, very close community. You start screaming age discrimination, even if it's true, and the other possible employers will back away from you very quickly.

But, gang, there are companies out there who will hire you. They are not that hard to identify. The HR rep is over 25. She does not look at those over 40 as elderly and tired. Smaller companies that don't or can't afford to spend tons on training look at you as a bargain or even a steal. Take what you have and shop it in an area where others don't. And for those companies that do discriminate against you and do it openly, remember it. Remember who in the company. Learn a tiny bit about them. Watch them in the future. But write it down, don't waste time thinking about it. You never can tell when the fates will give you a little tiny opportunity to return the favor to the company or even better the person. And most of the time it will.
Playing On The Same Team Fri, 13 Mar 2009 12:22:18 -0800 Conquent
But what about going the opposite way, and deciding to work *with* or *for* your social contacts and friends? This sort of arrangement has ruined many a good relationship, and it takes a very deep understanding on the side of both parties of their respective personalities, goals, communication styles and expectations to make such a relationship work.

For me, this has been amply demonstrated recently in several relationships I have. I joined Conquent because I know my style, personality and goals match the team and I trust that the business relationship will be enhanced by the trust and understanding we hold for each other.
Conversely, recently a friend of mine that owns a small business asked for my help. She sent me an email a few weeks ago, asking if I had any technical Project Manager resumes to fill a contract she had with a major global consulting client. I sent her two that I had just been referred to, but they didn’t have the skill set the client needed. So, she called me and rattled off a few key skills that were necessary and a two sentence blurb on the role and the team. So I crafted a short job description and sent it to my network, got several responses and sent them on to her. She shortlisted them based on their skills, and spoke to one of them in depth, but didn’t screen the other top candidate.

She set up interviews with the client team. Unfortunately, the candidate she didn’t screen didn’t do well. The other candidate was a better fit technically, but wasn’t quite right from a team fit perspective. My friend called me up very upset, telling me that I hadn’t done what I had said I would. She had assumed that I was giving her pre-qualified, fully screened professionals. I misconstrued her request for a short favor. It has put a strain on her relationship, but hopefully both of us have learned our lesson about communication and expectations.

Recruiting is an intense, multi-faceted discipline. Many people think that recruiters just get a job description, slap it on a few job boards and wait for the resumes to roll in. Pick the top 3-5, interview them and make an offer, DONE. There is much more to the job than that, and although the lifecycle of recruiting is fairly standardized, the individual methods and styles vary greatly. Add to that specialized knowledge for various industries such as healthcare, IT, academics, government, legal, non-profit and any other highly evolved niche, and it becomes apparent that it isn’t “just” about finding a few candidates.
The Exponential Effects of Fiscal Mismanagement Thu, 19 Mar 2009 11:08:42 -0800 Conquent

Then let's look at AIG. OK, to use a very strong colloquialism..."WTF?" BONUSES to the miserable executives who mismanaged their assets? Is anyone else disgusted at this? Someone questioned whether we, as the general public, have any stake in this. My response was, "well, the federal government currently owns an 80% stake in the company. I elected the officials that are administering this on the behalf of John Q. Public; so yeah, we have a significant stake." I believe the executives who have accepted the bonuses should be somehow dealt with legally if at all possible, and replaced poste haste. You cannot tell me there aren't *honest and qualified* execs available to run this company competently.

I'm glad GM is restructuring. I'm firmly convinced that this is one of the best things to come out of all the "bailout" muck. I have been on the fence about this issue for several months, and have concluded that we should let the free market capitalist model *do it's job*.

Closer to home, Microsoft recently instituted a mandatory 10% reduction in billing fees from it's staffing agencies (see, HR after all :). Some of the agencies passed the cuts along to the contractors in whole or part; some ate the reduction on existing contracts. The contractors themselves keenly feel the injustice of all this, and some have started protesting. I've had "offline" conversations with people about the situation and most people attribute it to a few things.

1) Many of Microsoft's enterprise customers were in the banking/finance industry, which means a significant reduction in their revenue stream.

2) When Bill Gates stepped down, the company naturally shifted gears from a corporate culture perspective. Steve Ballmer has very different ideas about how to run the company.

3) Yes, corporate greed has played a part in this.

4) OFCCP and other compliance issues have been a factor in the decisions.

My personal opinion? MS has shot itself in the foot as an employer of choice, between the contractor gaffe and the layoffs with the whole "payback" debacle. Are some of the measures they have taken sensible? Sure. But MS's fiscal year starts in *July*. I think they truly jumped the gun on many of these cost-cutting measures which could have been more appropriately handled with the change of fiscal year.

I have many friends in Staffing worried that they will be losing their jobs come July. And I don't blame them one bit.

When major corporations and small local businesses start skirting both the law and common sense, practicing corporate greed, it makes me angry, mostly for the employees effected by the stupidity of it all. ]]>
Creative Talent Rich, Business Savvy Poor Sun, 22 Mar 2009 11:48:38 -0800 Conquent
But I am noticing a rather interesting trend among my truly artistic connections. The inability or refusal to grow from a business perspective; and, in some cases, being unable to let go of creative endeavors in some respect, which can be the death of an “artist”, if art is how they are trying to make a living. For example, a young 20-something media/video editor I know is unemployed, and got her BA a little over a year ago. The current market being what it is, she needs to be as marketable as possible. I helped her with her resume and tried to get her in contact with some professional contacts I have (oh, like a Recruiting Manager at LucasArts I know.) Nothing. So I asked my technical community for a site review of her professional portfolio online. Lots of very constructive and useful feedback. But she decided not to update her site. At all. Nothing I can do for someone that won’t help themselves.

Another friend of mine is a digital artist. I’ve seen a lot of referrals to folks doing her kind of work, and the term “digital painter” has come to light. But she would never “re-title” her occupation. She also has some really *adamant* ideas of what she will and won’t do to promote herself. And unfortunately, she is missing out on cutting edge marketing tools and trends because she doesn’t think it’s worth her time and energy to use them.

A very talented musician with several CD’s to his name of original music doesn’t have a MySpace page or any videos on YouTube.

I’m constantly looking at new tools and venues for promoting my work; not just my resume and recruiting professions, but also my writing. (I’m an author if you didn’t catch that…current novel manuscript is in the urban fantasy genre.) And, I must tell you, my thought processes are *constantly* turning. And it’s interesting to me that “creative” personalities that derive inspiration from the world around them seem too set in their ways when it comes to certain things. Comfort is all well and good, but learning to use new tools and methodology, and taking feedback from peers and critics is part of the *business* part of making money from your art. And when consumer spending is at the low end of the spectrum, using every promotional advantage at your disposal is vital, just like any other profession.
What Outsourcing Your Corporate Blog Says To Me Wed, 25 Mar 2009 10:11:18 -0800 Conquent
OK, to me this is sort of oxymoronic in certain ways. First, almost *any* company has internal employees, be it in sales/marketing, or even someone in HR that has aspirations to become a writer. Why pay an external company extra money without taking advantage of your already existent talent?

Second, outsourcing a blog says that you don't trust your own internal teams to disseminate information properly. Especially at a legal firm, this says a lot to me as an outsider about their business practices. It smacks of dishonesty to me; the external vendor is representing *your* firm yet the reader doesn't know it.

Finally, and to me the most important, if you outsource your corporate blogging, you are structuring a message that doesn't connect with your corporate culture. And, to be honest, one of the reasons companies encourage/allow blogging is because they are trying to connect with clients, potential clients, show that the firm is "in touch" with current trends and tools. Hiring someone else to do it invalidates all of these, in my book. ]]>
The Dark Side of Being Connected and Visible Fri, 27 Mar 2009 11:25:32 -0800 Conquent
So, he did so. Updated his MSFT profile to reflect his last day of employment (which was Monday), and then shut down his non-tech business info.

The result? Almost immediately he got a call from American Express (Amex) asking him what his income was?

I was stunned when I spoke to his wife about this and suggested that he contact Amex directly make sure it wasn't a scam.

They did so, and not only was it a legit call, *Amex confirmed they have people monitoring LinkedIn and other networking sites for employment verification purposes.*

The implications are staggering, especially from an HR perspective, and legally. Employment verification is a key component in the hiring process.

In addition to the obvious question about the ethicality of using something like LinkedIn for the aforementioned purpose, I also question the use of resources in this respect.

I applaud them for keeping their employees "busy", but I wonder what sort of message this sends from a corporate culture standpoint? What sort of training and mentality is this breeding in their employees?

Much to ponder in this Big Brother scenario; makes me glad I don't use Amex. ]]>
Understanding Google To Get Your Resume Noticed Thu, 2 Apr 2009 19:36:07 -0800 Conquent
Understanding how search tools work is one of the keys to any online endeavors such as blogging, selling any sort of product/service, and…job hunting.

Think of the yellow pages and how they are indexed. By topic, then by entry alphabetically. To find what you are looking for, you have to *know* what it is classified under. The one that always annoyed me was that cab companies are listed under “taxi”. If I didn’t know to look under “taxi” I’d never get to the airport!

Now think of using Google. You are looking for something very specific, like a dry cleaner that is environmentally friendly in your area. You start your search a number of ways, like:

Dry cleaner Chicago green

You may get 254 hits across the metro area, and you live in Glen Ellyn. So you change your search to

Dry cleaner Glen Ellyn green

You *could* also do something like

Green dry cleaner 60137

The more creative you get with your searching, the more refined –or broad- your results will be. Most people think in pretty basic terms and get tons of results, then have to look through all them to find what they are looking for.
The way Google and other search engines identify the results of any search is based on the content on the page. The engine searches for keywords, indexes them, and returns them as results. The keywords are called “metadata tags”. (Often if you see a list of terms at the bottom of an article or blog posting, those are tags the author has identified for metadata search tools.)

So from a recruiting perspective, how do we “find” the right candidate? By keyword searching. Usually when we receive a job description, recruiters create a list of keywords that they will use to search for candidates. All major job boards and Applicant Tracking Systems use keyword searching. Here is the *most important* piece of information for the job seeker: these databases return results based on a stack-ranked system. That system ranks *by the number of times the word appears in the profile.* So the old “stick to one page” resume advice isn’t always your best bet.

Like every other profession, some recruiters are good at this aspect of their job, others aren’t. A seasoned recruiter knows how to vary their search based on related terms that may or may not be in the job description. But many don’t have the luxury of experimenting with variety, or don’t know the value of it. So it is very important to make sure your resume, if you are applying for a specific job, is tailored to the job’s keywords. If you are using a general resume on a job board such as Monster or CareerBuilder, keep in mind the keyword stack ranking when you are composing your resume.

It's All In The Details Thu, 9 Apr 2009 08:41:00 -0800 Conquent
Now, I have a very special talent for finding such creatures. About 6 years ago, Microsoft made the decision to do away with all their automated testers, and only employ (both contract and FTE) "Software Design Engineers in Test". There is a huge and pronounced difference between the two. SDET's (or QA Engineers) as they are referred to around here, need to be able to code in Object Oriented languages such as C++, C# and Java. This is because there are two main kinds of testing, and the type that is most prevalent in the Seattle market is manual testing,
meaning that each time software is run through a test cycle, the QA professional needs to be able to actually *write* the software that does the testing, as opposed to automated testing which uses out of the box products with the ability
to tweak pieces of code here and there.

The reason I make this distinction is because of the salary differences between the two types of professionals. It's really going to make a difference when you get down to asking people about finding resources for the compensation surveys.

Hiring managers often get frustrated when a recruiter asks them for more details for the job description. But let's think of it this way. Let's say that the company in question uses the generic job description that was sent to our list:

"Develops, publishes, and implements test plans. Writes and maintains test automation. Develops quality assurance standards. Defines and tracks quality
assurance metrics such as defect densities and open defect counts. Requires a bachelor's degree and 2-4 years of experience coding in C, C++, Java. Must have
a working knowledge of quality assurance methodologies. Familiar with NT, UNIX and/or Solaris environments. Relies on experience and judgment to plan and accomplish goals. Performs a variety of tasks. Works under general supervision; typically reports to a manager. A certain degree of creativity and latitude is required. Typically reports to a supervisor or manager."

To me this job description means they are looking for someone who can actually *code* in the languages specified. In terms of money, this is going to add at least $5-$10K to your compensation structure. I actually got a reply offlist from the person who asked the information in the first place, and she told me their "range", which was a single amount for the base salary. Again, this is not a "range". I asked if this was their midpoint, high or low? (It turned out to be a "bang your head against the wall situation; either she didn't know the answer or didn't particularly care). Turns out they are looking for an automated tester, which is the cheaper option of the two. In which case their base "range" should be fine.

In recruiting we almost always have a range, a set of numbers that we can be flexible with in discussing compensation. If you don't know the full story, you cannot expect to get an accurate answer to a question you throw out to the internet.

Which goes to my point about communicating and sharing information with *detail*. There are some people that can spin their wheels trying to impart information to another person; I've met plenty of people that just don't know how to *listen*. They hear you just fine, but they don't know how to pull apart the answer well enough to ask the right questions. Or, conversely, they lack the experience to analyze that information enough to *know* there is a lack. These are the folks that just don't "get it". We've all met them.

It's all in the details and the subtleties that things really happen. You can get the "big picture" but if you don't understand the details you cannot do the job *right*.
Your Sales Kit: the Resume (Part 1 - The Basics) Mon, 13 Apr 2009 17:38:51 -0800 Conquent
A lot of the professionals that are out in the market today have been set adrift after years of faithful service to their employer. They haven’t constructed a resume in, well, a long time. Just like every other industry, recruiting changes. Technology has made our job a lot easier in some ways but the sheer number of tools we use has increased exponentially. Our main criteria for evaluating a candidate, however, is still the resume (or CV depending on your industry or country.)

In North America, the resume is the standard document used by job hunters. And there are as many opinions as to what makes a good resume as there are people reading and writing them. There are a few basics all resumes have in common.

1) Contact information. In today’s electronically connected world with email and cell phone addresses that follow you where ever you may live, this is both easier and more difficult. Of course you should use your name; if you have a relatively common name, like Pam Smith, consider using your full name with a middle initial. This will be more professional and perhaps make it easier to find you in a large database of names.

Pamela S. Smith (Pam)

The more ways you give a recruiter to contact you, the more chance you have of *being* contacted. Home phone, cell phone, email addresses. Whether you choose to use a street address is completely up to you, but it is good practice to indicate your city and state of residence, especially if your primary phone number is an out of state area code. Make sure your email address is *professional*, not something used by a teenager. If you are currently employed, think carefully about using your work email address. Will you still have access to it if downsizing is occuring? Does your company monitor your incoming mail? Remember, any data that sits on company assets (ie servers, your computer, voicemail) is considered *company property.*

If you have any certification abbreviations, they can be put with your name, if it is industry standard. IE:

Pamela S. Smith, CPA

Basically think of what your business cards look like.

2) Employment History. This information should be in *reverse chronologic order*, no matter what format your choose. That means your most recent position is first, then the last one is second, etc. If you have been with the same employer for a significant amount of time, break up your jobs by year.

Acme Widgets 1995-Present

2007-Present Senior Accountant

2004-2007 Junior Accountant

2002-2004 Bookkeeper

1997-2002 Accounting Clerk

1995-1997 - Customer Service Representative, Business Accounts

3) Education. Your education, *all* types, should be at the end of your resume with a few exceptions.

If you are just out of college/high school (one year or less) it will go at the top under your contact information.

Your industry is standard to list a doctorate degree first (ie scientist, academic, attorney.)

If you have taken professional courses, you should list them in the education section under your last schooling.

*Be sure that any training you are listing is current and relevant for the position you are seeking. If you had PowerPoint training in 2000, but you don’t use it or it’s such an integrated part of your job every day, don’t waste space in the education section. Similarly, if you took training that you don’t use anymore, *keep it off your resume*.

4) “References Available Upon Request.” This statement is a waste of space. If I am interested in hiring you for a job you *want*, I am pretty certain you will give me references if I ask for them.

Remember, *every single thing* on your resume should focus on your current skill set and the sort of opportunity you are seeking. You should be able to answer any question related to any piece of information that is on your resume,

Your Job Hunting Sales Kit: the Resume (Part 2 - What Did You Do?) Mon, 13 Apr 2009 17:40:36 -0800 Conquent
A functional resume is a list of both soft and hard skills and experience followed by a brief employment history showing company, title, location and years only. A CV is an extensive list of projects and publications.

Most recruiters and hiring managers prefer a chronologic resume or a CV over a functional resume which is what we’ll concentrate on. I’ll address the functional format later on.

When you are crafting the content for your various jobs, there are a number of factors to keep in mind. Many resume books tell you that this should *not* be just a “list” of your duties. For the most part, that is true. However, you do need to lay out your role/responsibilities, personalized with examples of your accomplishments on the job. How do you figure this out?

The two tools I use when I’m talking to a new resume client are job descriptions and performance reviews. The job descriptions should be position(s) you are interested in, and if available, the one you were hired under. This allows you a chance to look at where you “were”, the bridge to where you were heading (performance reviews), and the new challenge or opportunity you are pursuing.

For example, I am a recruiter. My job description has some basics that are consistent across the field but there are subspecialties and different tools that are used. I have done what is called “full lifecycle” recruiting as well as the subspecialty of “sourcing”. I also have a further delineation as a Technical Recruiter, meaning that I have been hiring very specialized professionals in the hardware and software industry, which entails a thorough understanding of not only job descriptions but also the technologies, processes, tools, and terminology of the industry.

The presentation of my resume for a specific position is going to depend on what job I am looking at, what industry it is, etc. The content of my “roles and responsibilities” is going to be targeted, along with specific projects or initiatives I have worked on. It is *vital* that even if you held the same basic “title” that you show variance under each position to reflect your contributions to the overall team, company, project etc.

One thing to keep in mind when identifying your employer is to make sure you orient your reader immediately to the industry the company is in. If you were working for a company that isn’t either easily recognizable ( ie Microsoft, General Electric, Procter and Gamble, TGIFriday’s etc.) or that the company name isn’t descriptive (descriptive examples might include "The City of Tulsa Department of Accounting", "Bob’s Flooring", "Acme Trucking and Distribution") then you should include a brief one-sentence description of the company. You can generally pick this up from the corporate website or even a yellow pages ad. It’s the “hook” or marketing phrase the company devises to create their brand.

“F S Wholesale is the largest distributor of plumbing supplies in the state of Maryland.”

There are a lot of ways to present this information. Paragraphs, short sentences, bullet points or “lists”. The format is going to depend on 1) how much information you are presenting 2) your job content…IE a barista at the local coffee shop is going to be a much shorter entry than a regional Starbuck’s manager. 3) the length of your resume.

*One of the most common questions recruiters and career coaches receives is “how long should my resume be?

Usually job hunters are thinking in terms of pages. Since the 1980’s, we have been counseled to keep it to no more than two pages. This has been ingrained into our job hunting psyches.

But here’s the thing: nowadays, the *majority* of job seekers are using electronic media such as email and job boards/electronic applications for their job searches. Guess what? When you enter your resume content into any sort of an electronic system, I can’t tell how many pages it is. It comes up as a text box when I first start looking at it. When you send me an email attachment, I open it up and scan the top two-thirds of the page in front of me to see if there is a decent match. I don’t *care* how long it is from a recruiting standpoint.

That isn’t to say that your resume should be ten pages long. The rule of thumb is:

Two pages should be sufficient to showcase your professional history/qualifications going back 7-10 years. And that is *what you should be concentrating on*. If you have more years of experience than that, it probably isn’t relevant. Trying to fit every job on your resume going back to your college job in 1982 isn’t necessary.

Personally, I would rather have a three page resume that is clean and easy to read than trying to jam pack so much information into a document that it reads like a technical manual or dictionary.

Current trends lean toward bullet points for delineating your job content. This is best accomplished if you have a pretty steady job history, meaning you haven’t changed employers frequently (ie if you are a freelance consultant/contractor it probably isn’t your best format.) Keep in mind, the further back you go, the less content you need. The bulk of information should be in your last 1-3 positions, thinning out as you go further back.

Another question that comes up frequently is the date format. Do you use the mm/yy -mm/yy or just yy/yy?

I prefer the year-year format. I don’t care if you spent six weeks looking for a new job between May and July of 2002. Maybe you were taking vacation, or perhaps you got a severance package and took extra time to finish painting your family room. But it is true that almost all online applications want the mm/yy format, so even if you choose to use the year-year format, you should have the months of transition recorded and accessible. (Don’t even *think* about the day…choose a default of the 1st, 15th, or 25th if needed). Remember, your resume is a *sales tool*. The information should accurately and positively portray you as a valuable asset to potential employer.
Your Sales Kit: The Resume (Part 3 - Opening Gambit) Mon, 13 Apr 2009 17:44:44 -0800 Conquent
Objective: • Goal-oriented individual with strong leadership capabilities. (This isn’t an objective, it’s a statement.)

Objective To obtain a challenging and professional position, that will enable me to utilize my technical skills and communications skills in a growing and stable Internet technology environment that will enhance my career growth.

Seeking a challenging position as an administrative assistant/receptionist with an opportunity for advancement, which will allow me to further utilize my existing skills and enable to acquire new abilities.

OK, here’s the thing. As a recruiter, I have found/received your resume. I know by this fact that you are looking for a job. And generally you are either A) unemployed B) have no room for advancement C) don’t get along with your manager D) looking for more money. As a recruiter, I am going to *assume* you want a challenging job that utilizes your skills, teaches you new ones, gives you opportunities for growth and rewards you (money, recognition, etc.) So *don’t waste valuable space telling me things I already know*.

I already mentioned the fact that using trite or cliche verbiage on a resume is bad; to be honest, it can be the kiss of death depending on the position. Every single thing you put on your resume needs to be concise, targeted, relevant, and show you at your best. And the first few lines/paragraphs on your resume set the stage. I was at a panel last night with three other recruiters, and one of the questions we were asked was how long we look at any given resume. Three of us answered the same: 10-15 seconds. The other recruiter answered 30 seconds, because she takes the time to read cover letters. (Hint there…the majority of us skip cover letters; more on cover letters later).

As a recruiter, when I open any sort of resume, I am looking at the top 1/3 of the first page to decide if I want to read more. That equates to approximately 20-30 lines of most size 12 fonts. Your contact info takes up 3-5 of those lines, and that leaves you with not very much space to make an impression. So make the most of it.

If you choose to use an objective, it should be no more than one sentence and very precise. It should tell me what sort of opportunity you are looking for; ideally, for each job you apply for, you will have a different objective mentioning the company and exact position or department you are interested in. At the very least tell me *specifically* what you are looking for.

Objective: Seeking a software engineering position in the Embedded Software division at Microsoft.

Objective: Architect with over fifteen years of commercial experience seeking opportunity at Waxer and Sons.

Objective: Sales Executive with consumer goods and packaging experience seeking position with manufacturing operation.

I mentioned that I find objectives too limiting. Let’s just say that I look at your resume and see that you are looking for an administrative or receptionist opportunity. I may stop right there because I don’t have any openings of that sort. But for some reason your resume came up in a keyword search for a customer support role I have. Your objective is going to probably tell me you aren’t interested in anything I have, and there are 33 other resumes for me to consider. See my point?

I did mention there *are* a few times to use an objective. One of them is to tie your past experience to a position you are looking at outside of your most recent industry. This is often the case when someone gets a degree in a new field.

Objective: recent graduate with a degree in Human Resources seeking an opportunity to leverage my five years as a physician’s assistant in the field of benefits administration.

Perhaps your spouse has been transferred from Chattanooga to Dallas, and his/her company is paying your relocation. You need to find a job in your new city. This goes back to discussing your contact information and letting a recruiter know you are “local”. Very few companies are offering relocation these days, and many aren’t even recruiting outside their own territories. Budget considerations combined with the decline in the housing market are the main reasons for this.

Objective: recently relocated hospitality manager seeking new opportunities in the Dallas area.

To me, an objective is best used as a bridge from one thing to another.

In the last decade, two other types of openings have become much more prevalent than an objective. A profile statement, generally a short paragraph outlining your skills, or a summary section, preferably with bullet points, pulling out *tangible* highlights from your career demonstrating your expertise in your field.

Profile statement:

HR Generalist with expertise in HR policies, project management, strategic initiatives, and systems solutions.

Expertise includes employee relations, designing and implementing global training programs, evaluating and managing vendor contracts (IE:recruiting, benefits, outsourced payroll.)

Summary of Qualifications:

* -Product Manager responsible for launching three new product offerings in two years resulting in $2.5 million increased revenue during this period
* -Delivered an in-depth competitor analysis resulting in a savings of 35% in advertising costs
* -Create product roadmap for two new product lines which decreased RTM time from 22 months to 13 months

Either choice should be heavily supported by your employment history with detailed experiences and accomplishments. Remember, your resume is how you tell an employer why *you* are the best person for *their* opportunity.

So what if you feel you don’t have enough experiences or accomplishments to warrant any of the above? The your best bet is just to launch straight into your employment history. Recruiters want to get to the meat of your experience sooner rather than later.

So use that valuable real estate at the top of your resume. Tell me right off the bat why I should consider *you* over the other 3466 people that have applied for the job.
Your Sales Kit: The Resume (Part 4 – The Functional Resume) Mon, 13 Apr 2009 17:48:13 -0800 Conquent
I’m going to address the functional resume here.

I mentioned what a functional resume looks like and that they aren’t very well received by most hiring managers and recruiters except if you are in a portfolio industry. By that, I mean the essence of what you are doing is the same skill set across multiple concurrent clients. Examples would be a producer/director, PR account exec, attorney, stock broker/financial planner, actor/entertainer, freelancer but not a career contractor (1099, you own your own business). In these cases, using a functional resume makes a lot of sense.

A functional resume is a list of skills (can be grouped many different ways) that you have followed by a list of employers with name, date, title, and location with no more information than that. There are a few reasons why functional resumes are unpopular.

1) Often they are used to cover a gap in employment. Recruiters would rather just have you tell them that you took a leave or were a primary caregiver for your family.

2) People using functional resumes are claiming skills that may be in their professional toolkit but that they haven’t used in a long time, causing longer ramp-up time and outdated training.

3) Most importantly, hiring managers want to see a progression of your skills as it relates chronologically to your work history. There is no context for how you gained the skills and how they have been applied. A functional resume gives no information of career progression and how you take ownership of your career and move forward.

Let’s take a portfolio resume for example. (This is a completely fictitious representation):

Cindy Smith

(206) 555-0988/

-Deep understanding of creative production tools including Flame, Smoke, Combustion, After Effects, Final Cut Pro, Softimage XSI and Quicktime.

-Expert knowledge of Mac-based production tools including Photoshop, and Illustrator.

-Over twelve years experience working with industry tools such as lighting instruments, cameras, microphones.

Strong project management skills including working with budgets in excess of $1M, vendor management, contract negotiations (including media licensing agreements).

-Projects range from music video, feature films and documentaries, to television commercials and streaming media ad campaigns.

Film Projects:

The Keeper’s Son – Associate Producer (67 minutes) 2007 (Documentary)

*Honorable Mention, Seattle International Film Festival; shown at the Toronto Film Festival

Jewels of the Amazon: Endangered Species - Producer (41 minutes) 2002 (Documentary)

Animal Planet 2004; Discover Channel 2002

Coming of Age -1999 – Production Coordinator – Warner Brother’s Feature Film


Two For One – Season 1-2 1996-1997; Writer/Researcher for 32 episodes for CBS detective drama.

Thicker Than Water – Special Effect post-production Editor 1996 – NBC mini-series- three-episodes; vampire thriller.


Microsoft Studios: Gobi Experiment 2008; Butterfly Kiss 2006; Easy 123 2005 – Producer

Thirteen Coins Restaurant 2005 –Producer, writer

Tyee Chamber of Commerce 2002 –Producer Post Production Editor

Music Video:

Portents of Doom: “Sunday’s Kiss” – 2008 Camera, Post Production Editor

*Video reached 1 million hits on YouTube in one week.

Portents of Doom: “Any Man’s Guess” -2006 Camera, Post Production Editor

*Alcazar Records signed Portents of Doom after seeing this video on MySpace in less than three weeks.

Streaming Media:

Bungie Studios: Halo 4 ad – 2008 Post Production Editor

Comcast (Internet) – Video Editor 2006

Extap Studios – Turner’s Revenge feature film trailer -2004 Special Effects Editor


MFA – American Film Institute Conservatory 2001

BA Multimedia Design –The Art Institute of Seattle 1995

As we can see, there is no indication of what tools/knowledge were used for each position, which is problematic in other industries. We also have to piece together what she worked on at what time, which in the corporate world is the key experience indicator hiring managers are looking for. The lesson is: unless you are using the same skills consistently over a period of time, avoid the functional resume. ]]>
Your Sales Kit: The Resume (Part 5 – Design and Layout) Mon, 13 Apr 2009 17:50:02 -0800 Conquent The style of your resume is as important as the content. Margins, font, how the information is presented are all important. One of the easiest lessons to keep in mind when creating or overhauling your resume is K.I.S.S.

One of the biggest mistakes I see as a recruiter is a resume that is too fancy. Tables, logos, font, designs. Not only does this sort of content detract from the meat of the resume, it can be difficult to read especially if the document containing them is uploaded to a database (job board, Applicant Tracking System.) I mentioned that when I open either of these that I get a text version of the document. Databases are built with software programming languages which use only the letters, numbers and symbols that you find on a basic typewriter keyboard as the base for their programming. Everything is assigned a value based on those symbols. Maybe you have gotten email that looked like a bunch of gibberish? That is your email provider trying to translate the mail it cannot read.

So ideally, you should use only the keys on your basic keyboard and spacing you can accomplish with the tab key and basic word processing commands. When choosing a font, a study found that the best font to use for a resume was corbel. It is also a good rule of thumb to never use a font smaller than *10 point* for ease of reading.

I’ve mentioned that most recruiters and hiring managers prefer bullet points to read; keep in mind that you can choose the symbol you want to use for bullet points. Stick to simple choices like a dash, asterisk, carat, or the basic circle. Otherwise, that “bullet point” translates to something like #(** in front of the line you are trying to highlight.

When choosing the layout of your resume, the very first suggestion I have is *don’t* use the templates such as you find in Microsoft Word. It wastes space, and honestly labels you as someone unprofessional. Use bold, italics, and different sizes of font combined with indented space to vary your content and call attention to different areas.

Your margins in large part will determine the length of your resume, as will the spacing you use for indentation. The narrower the margins, the most space you will actually have for content. The more spaces you use for indentation, the less space you will have for the lines of text.

One way to make sure your resume is ideally adapted to online databases is to make sure you have a text version of it. All computers have notepad, the program that strips all the fancy formatting away. On the Windows Operating System, this is how you access Notepad:

Type the word ” notepad ” into the dialogue box.

Once you have the program on, align everything to the left and on the command bar, go to the “format” key and make sure to check “Word Wrap”.

Save the document as a .txt file.

It’s that simple. You can copy/paste the entire contents of this document into databases that don’t have an “upload” feature where they offer you to “copy/paste”. When I am preparing a resume for a client, I always include a .txt version for them.

As a recruiter, one of the things that is very annoying is when a candidate sends me a resume and embeds his/her contact information in a header/footer. This makes me work harder to see *who* I am reading about. Do us all a favor and just don’t do it. I may just pass over your resume if it is too much effort to glean all the information.

One question I get a lot on panels and from job seekers is whether or not to use a photo? The answer is in North America: absolutely not, unless you are in the entertainment business (actor, model, etc.) We have strict laws in the US and Canada about privacy and discrimination, and as a resume is supposed to be a sales tool for your *experience and background*, a photo has no place on it.

Again the style of your resume comes back to the same message as the content: targeted, concise, with every piece of the document geared towards pointing out your work history, not your graphic design prowess.
Your Sales Kit: The Resume (Part 6 – The Graduating Student) Mon, 13 Apr 2009 17:51:10 -0800 Conquent Newly graduating (or recently graduated) students have slightly different needs from their resume. Many of them don’t have a lot (if any) paid work experience, and add to that the fact that they have so much coursework to choose from, and it can be a difficult task to figure out what goes on the resume. This post is addressed to those young adults that are graduating from a collegiate program right out of HS, as opposed to someone going back to school or with military experience.

At the panel I was on last week, there were a fair number of students in the audience and two campus recruiters on the panel to answer questions. That, coupled with my own work with software interns, inspired today’s post.

A few things to know from a recruiting perspective. A “campus candidate”, someone who “just” graduated, generally refers to someone for up to *one year* after receiving their degree, be it undergrad or graduate programs. Campus Recruiters are different from “industry recruiters” by the very nature of their work. Not all companies have a separate campus recruiter, but most larger companies do. Once you have gotten past the one year from graduation mark, you should change your resume to reflect your status. Thus, even if you don’t find a job in your primary field right out of college, it behooves you to do *something*, even if it is working a part-time job at the mall until you find something.

Common resume questions that students ask:
Should I put my GPA on my resume?
-Generally only if it is over 3.5; or, if your overall GPA is lower than that but you have a high GPA in your major, you can indicate that.
GPA: 3.1 overall, 3.8 in my major.
One word: your resume should *also* be tailored. When you are applying to a company and they ask for your GPA, you should give it to them on your resume, regardless of what it is.

How long should it be?
-A recent graduate should be able to keep their resume to one page.

What classes should I list?
-You don’t need to put your entire cirriculum on your resume. A good rule of thumb is that if you had a project that taught you something in your major/minor fields that could translate as “experience”, definitely put that on there. Highlight the skills that are relevant to what you want to do in the work world. Stick to the last few quarters/semesters, unless you did something outstanding or that was a definite building block for your profession. If you have a dual major, have two resumes, each one emphasizing one major and the coursework you did, projects, etc.

I had a part-time job in the summers; where should I put that on my resume?
-Your resume is your *professional profile* and as such, this experience should be close to the top. Keep in mind that recruiters aren’t just interested in jobs, they also want to know about leadership, extra-cirricular, or volunteer experience that can be relevant to your profile as an employee.

Should I put my references on my resume?
-No, nor should you volunteer them until asked for.

How long should my cover letter be?
-The answer to this question is no different than for any other job seeker. SHORT. The first paragraph should be what job you are applying for and how you heard about it. The second paragraph should be about why you believe you are a good fit for the position (highlighting in 2-5 sentences those items in your resume that will be of the most relevance to the job and employer). Finally, your closing should thank the reader for their time and tell then when you would be available to speak to them.

One thing that both campus recruiters stressed was that too many students go into personal or inappropriate details/stories in their cover letters. Keep the content professional, sticking only to the job and your eligibility for it. If the recruiter has questions, s/he will ask them. If you have some extraordinary break in your education, call it out on your resume, and wait for the recruiter to address it with you. Above all, keep it *concise*. Your cover letter should be no more than 3/4 page or 10-15 sentences total.

It also should go without saying that you should spell check your cover letter, use full sentences (no cell text abbreviations) with proper grammar and capitalization. Have someone else read it over before you send it; preferably someone that has been in the workforce a few years.

Should I put anything from High School on my resume?
-Generally not, unless you did something in high school that was relevant or unusual. For example, if you were an Exchange Student to Ecuador for a year, that is something you might consider using, especially if it affected your course of study or choice of profession. A way to think about it is that your high school years should *never* be more impressive than your collegiate accomplishments.

One last thing a lot of students forget is to list the tools they know, such as Microsoft Office, or HTML, or other skills that might be valuable for a company. This information can go at the end of the resume for most graduates unless you are in a specialized field where industry tools are standard (ie, programming languages for a computer science major, or editing tools for a multimedia degree). In that case I would suggest putting it after your education, before your professional history. You can label it “Skills” or “Summary of Skills” or “Summary of Qualifications”.

And, as always, your career center should be able to help you, or you can seek guidance from a temporary staffing firm that might place professionals in your field. You might also ask family and friends if they know any recruiters that can take a look at it. Most of us are happy to help out students entering the work world.
Your Sales Kit: The Resume (Part 7 – The Before and After) Mon, 13 Apr 2009 17:52:01 -0800 Conquent Cover Letter and References

I’m wrapping up my resume series with the documentation that brackets your resume; the cover letter and references. I’ve mentioned a bit about cover letters, but I will go into a bit more detail.

A high percentage of recruiters don’t read cover letters. We don’t have the time. There are a couple of ways to “sneak” a cover letter in front of recruiter or hiring manager if you absolutely believe it’s crucial to make your case. The first way, quite simply, is to include it as part of your resume. If you do this, do *not* have a templated coverletter. You will be best served writing a targeted cover letter for each employer you feel the need use it. It is ESPECIALLY important to follow the KISS rule.

Candidates seem to stress out over how to address the cover letter. “Dear…?” Who? If you don’t have a name, you are best served keeping it generic and *gender neutral*. “Dear Hiring Professional”; “To Acme Widget”. It is also perfectly acceptable to *skip* the salutation. Whatever you do, avoid “Dear Sirs”.

So, onto the meat of the cover letter. Reiterating what I’ve said before, it should be no more than three paragraphs, the meat of which is in the second. The first paragraph should address the position/department of interest, how you heard about the opportunity (this is where you mention that you were referred by Mary O’Malley in accounting). If it was a job board, indicate which one. Believe it or not, jobs may be tailored for different job boards, and mentioning the particular one can help the recruiter orient him/herself quickly.

The second paragraph is where you build the case as to why you are a strong candidate for the position. In no more than 3-5 sentences, tell the reader the relevant skills (including the company that are applicable to this opening/business group. This should include detailed examples such as a project, role, or client you handled.

Final paragraph (which is optional) is your availability and the best way to contact you (phone, email). End on a positive note, telling them you are looking forward to communication from them.

Closing should be your name and contact info.


Joshua Greene, PMP

Things to avoid in a cover letter include too much personal information (avoid the hard luck story), and covering every thing you have done that *might* qualify you for the job. Don’t gush on and on about how much you respect the company, it’s reputation, etc. You’ll have time for that in conversations.

Let’s happily assume you have gone through interviews and there is an offer pending. The company asks you for references. It is amazing some of the references I have seen out there. Do *not* put your references on your resume. Keep them until you are asked for them.

Your references should know your work; this means not just *what* you did, but how you interacted with other teams and your general work ethic. You should include at least one manager who oversaw your work, preferably someone that had the authority to give you feedback on your performance.

Try and keep your references updated. If you’ve been at Procter and Gamble for four years, listing your manager from your previous job but no one from your current company sends up huge red flags. Always try and keep tabs on who is where (LinkedIn is great for this). Personal phone and email addresses are often preferred by your references.

Make sure you ask your references if they are OK with you using them, don’t assume they are willing to. If you are in a situation where you cannot give references (for example, much of my own recent employment history is contracting at Microsoft, and they have a very strict policy against managers giving professional references for contractors), find someone like a client or business partner that can do it.

I usually recommend 3-5 references. Keep in mind that professional references are *different* than employment references that you put on an application.

Good luck, and hopefully you’ll have clearer understanding of the tools in your sales kit.
The Real Story: Resume Blast Services Tue, 14 Apr 2009 23:14:22 -0800 Conquent I was over on Twitter a few weeks ago, and there were several blurbs aimed at job seekers for “resume blast” sites such as Resume Zapper. Basically, you pay them a fee and they “blast” your resume to tons of recruiters. What they don’t tell you is that all they are doing is sending emails to email addresses like “” or “”. They don’t have any real “in” to specific companies and they aren’t targeting your job search for you.

Now, you may think that this would be helpful from a sheer numbers point of view, but here’s the thing. At least in the US, *most* companies are bombarded with resumes, and recruiters are only looking at applicants that apply directly (via website or referral, or with an email specifying the position in the subject line) to a specific position, and often times the “blasted” resumes are treated as spam and just deleted, so you have just wasted your money.

One of the worst things you can do is receive a call from a recruiter and have no idea what company they are calling from. *If* your resume somehow manages to defy the odds and ends up in the hands of a recruiter that is interested in your candidacy, will you have any idea who they are when they contact you?

I’ve performed Headhunting Services for clients before. This means that they contract with me to find opportunities for them. But I run every opportunity by them to judge their level of interest before I vet them to the company. This is the role of the external recruiter. The truth of the matter is that this is *your* job search, and you should be in control of it and know what is going on with it at all times.

It’s your money to spend, but I’d recommend investing it somewhere that will generate positive returns, like taking former colleagues out to coffee or attending networking functions.
Collegiate Internships - Gold For Your Resume Tue, 14 Apr 2009 23:18:59 -0800 Conquent It’s Intern Season for college students. While I was at Microsoft, I hired over thirty Computer Science interns for Microsoft Research, from around the globe. I still keep in contact with a couple of them as well.

Internships are one of the single best things you can do as a student to improve your resume when you leave school. An internship gives a prospective employer the impression that you are motivated and ready to learn. You come to a full time job with an understanding of the working environment and industry under your belt. You gain valuable networking and reference relationships. If it is a paid internship, you make money in your field. But probably the most important reason for *you* is that you get to see what you can expect once you graduate and are in the “real world”. It can be a way to excite and motivate you, or a vehicle for you to realize that you don’t necessarily enjoy the work you thought your education entailed.

There are a number of sources for finding internships. The best job board is probably Vault where they have a dedicated Intern section, although most of the large job boards and Craigslist have internships listed. Just use the keyword “intern”.

Your collegiate/university career center should be able to help you with researching companies and local businesses offering internships.

More and more people are getting on Twitter ; I follow Lauren Berger, who has created the site Intern Queen . She has a ton of information and resources on her website, and tweets opportunities. You can also check out Intern Bridge to see what are current Best Practices advocated for employers, and possibly to form some networking opportunities.

But internships aren’t always just decided upon and posted by large companies. You can approach smaller companies and ask them to create an internship, especially if you have done any work for them in the past. You may need to take it unpaid, but the experience can be invaluable. The key to creating an internship is to define a project or set of objectives that can be accomplished in a very set amount of time. And, if you manage to create your own opportunity, when you are updating your resume with that information, make sure you outline the steps you used to identify the need, indentified objectives, the scope of the project, timeline and the milestones. (Hint: these are all elements of Project Management.) The process of *creating* an opportunity is probably more interesting to a potential employee than the internship itself.

Check out some of the resources listed and good luck!
“I Don’t Get Twitter” Tue, 14 Apr 2009 23:20:35 -0800 Conquent
Like all social networking sites, Twitter is about building community. That means that people find what you have to say interesting for some reason. So the first thing you have to do is decide what your Twitter “personality” is about. In my case, it’s mostly about staffing and career with a bit of writing in there; recruiting, resume construction, job leads/openings, articles of interest. It’s also about promoting *me*. I consider Twitter a marketing tool. I am using it to establish myself as a SME (Subject Matter Expert) in the areas I am concentrating on.

For people to find me, I need to post information of interest. Resume tips, job hunting etiquette and tools, articles of interest. I am selective about who I follow and who follows me. It’s about quality instead of quantity. I have a couple of hundred followers and folks I follow. Part of the “building community” aspect is forwarding other people’s tweets, commenting on things I do or don’t agree on, occasionally responding privately to someone to build relationships.

Once you start tweeting enough, people that run searches will find your content and start watching you, following you, and sharing *your* posts. The more people that see you as a resource for valid and valuable information, the more you will get noticed and contacted for opinions and expertise.

It is similar to the “Answers” section of LinkedIn, using 140 characters or less.

Try it for a couple of weeks. You don’t have to continue if it doesn’t seem to be netting you any success. Oh, and if you want to follow me, I’m @employeeze.
Some Resources for Disputes (wage, layoff, discrimination etc.) Tue, 14 Apr 2009 23:24:19 -0800 Conquent
Since I am in the HR field, I am aware of some of the resources available to both companies and individual, but many people don’t have any idea about how to go about pursuing or even finding these resources.

If you feel you are the victim of any sort of discrimination, the State EEOC office is where you want to start.

The key to any sort of action, be it legal or any other sort of mediated resolution, is documentation. This means you will need copies of correspondences (ie offer letter, performance reviews, separation agreement, termination letter, etc.) Include copies of emails as well. Use all this information to document your case so that an informed decision can be made. Remember that the Unemployment office can also direct you to appropriate resources as well.

Be sure to ask questions about the process, what you can expect at the end of it as far as a resolution, and ask for a full copy of the file and all correspondence with your former employer.

There are resources out there if you look for them.
VC's for Jobs Tue, 14 Apr 2009 23:27:22 -0800 Conquent
But where do you *find* these startup companies, especially when they are in “stealth mode”? The answer is in the portfolios of Venture Capitalists.

VC firms have investors that contribute money to fund new companies, often for a significant return on either stock (if the company goes IPO or is bought) or revenue generated by the product/services the fledgling company is offering. There is a Canadian TV show, the Dragon’s Den , that demonstrates this concept.

The value of looking in the portfolio section is that often, they will show you job openings in the fledgling company, and the companies may not be advertising these jobs elsewhere.

Finding VC companies takes a bit of doing. In Seattle, we are very lucky in that Bridgeway Careers , a career counseling firm, has links to a plethora of local resources. The Bay area has a lot of VC resources as well. But I’ve done a Google Search for “Venture Capital”+Newport+RI and come up with a pretty targeted listing.

I have a friend in Florida that is desperately seeking an HR position in her town. I did a quick search and came up with this list:

So, make Google your friend. Find out who the VC firms in your area are and then start looking at their portfolios for potential leads.
An Acronym By Any Other Name Tue, 14 Apr 2009 23:29:03 -0800 Conquent
So, this piece of “sage wisdom” from yours truly applies to any resume or conversations my audience may encounter. The only acronyms that you should be using are industry standard terms. For example, if you are in accounting, GL, AP/AR are all acceptable commonplace terms. Software engineering use of SOAP is understandable. Any recruiter that doesn’t know what an ATS or HRIS is has no business being a recruiter.

However, to anyone outside of Microsoft, if I said I was the CG Recruiter for E & D, that means nothing. Think very carefully about *company* acronyms versus industry acronyms. In your resume, it is permissible to spell it out once then use the acronym after that. An example (from above):

Candidate Generation (CG) Recruiter for the Entertainment and Devices (E & D) team.

Remember, it is safest to assume that your audience is not an expert in your field, so communicate *to* that audience. ]]>
Your Local Chamber of Commerce May Be The Key to a Job Tue, 14 Apr 2009 23:30:57 -0800 Conquent
Not every company posts jobs online; many rely on employee referrals, or industry memberships. If they don’t have a lot of openings per year, they may just post to the local paper or Craigslist, which is far more cost effective than the major job boards.

They may also keep “representative” jobs up on their website for what is called “building a pipeline”. The position may not be open at the current time, but they try to build up a candidate pool for when the position does open up.

Once you have identified the opening, apply. Or, call and ask to speak to the recruiter or HR representative. This is also the best use of LinkedIn; finding people that work for the company and approaching them. Remember: you need to be proactive, don’t rely on others to find *you* in this market.
The Laws of Supply and Demand Tue, 14 Apr 2009 23:34:13 -0800 Conquent
His response? He exptected that recruiters would find him on Twitter and other social networking sites.

DOH! OK, not only is this beyond arrogant, it shows a true lack of understanding of the basic laws of supply and demand. Here’s the rubdown. There are *many, many many more candidates than jobs available.* The days when truly gifted and qualified candidates could expect to just sit back and let the recruiters come to them is a trend of the past for now. As I told him, right now those recruiters lucky enough to be employed *with* openings are being deluged by frantic candidates. They honestly don’t have the time to go out and find candidates, they are getting frazzled with the number of resumes that are coming their way.

Sourcing, or the process of *finding* candidates is something most recruiters don’t enjoy doing (I’m the exception to that rule.) Sourcing is as much about looking at and dispositioning candidates that are applying to your openings as it is about going out and headhunting. When I was at Microsoft, this was a *huge* issue in a strong market, let alone a depressed economy.

Yes, in the past couple of years tech publications have touted the revolution of social networking sites as tools that recruiters will embrace; but that is if they have *time*. Drowning under resumes means they don’t have time to be creative. So now is the time to definitely consider *mainstream* methods first (Monster,Careerbuilder, etc) and then go find the recruiters (hint: most of them with an internet presence are on LinkedIn, Plaxo, and Spoke.) Take a cue from the housing market: it’s a buyer’s market, and you are the *seller*.
Initial Contact - The Phone Screen Tue, 14 Apr 2009 23:37:03 -0800 Conquent
Nowadays, it’s pretty standard for someone to contact you for a phone screen if you look good on paper. Generally the initial contact is from someone in HR/Recruiting. This conversation is to ask you some general questions about your background, but it is also to assess your verbal skills. It is *also* his/her goal to establish your compensation range (I’ll discuss this in a later blog post).

Here are a few pointers to ensure that the phone screen gives a good first impression.

-Be flexible in your times
Lunch, early/late hours. If you are currently employed try and block time weekly for your conversations. Remember, recruiters work business hours although they may be willing to call you later or earlier.

*Make sure you use a phone that has clear reception (ie avoid SKYPE), and go to a place where you will be undisturbed. No kids, pets, traffic, music, TV, or interruptions. Make sure your cell phone is charged and you have reception. (I’ve gone to my car many times). Have a pen and paper handy to take notes to ask additional questions.

-Remember that the person on the other end may be typing, so keep your responses conversational, don’t just start rattling off what sounds like a canned answer. *Listen* to the question, don’t assume that all phone screens will ask you the same thing. Stay engaged with the person at the other end. If the question can be interpreted more ways than one, ask for which track the person is asking. For example, I had a phone screen for a recruiting position, and the Director of HR asked me about my experience talking about salaries. I asked her to clarify. Did she want an example of salary negotiation with a candidate, or re-leveling a position with a hiring manager for a candidate that was over/underqualified but was a great candidate, or was she asking what tools/methodology I have used for industry compensation analysis? The fact that I asked this question with a question answered *her* inquiry, because obviously I *do* have experience with “salaries”.

-If a recruiter calls you unexpectedly, do *not* get flustered and ask, “where are you calling from again? I’m sorry, I’ve sent out so many resumes…” This is one of the fastest ways to take you *out* of the running. Know what companies you have applied to. Keep a spreadsheet if necessary. Fake it if you need to. “Hi, this isn’t a good time for me to talk. Can we set up a time later this week?” Then ask for them to send you an email confirmation, this lets you know their company as well as their name.

This initial phone call is also a chance for you to engage. You *should* ask questions (and you should avoid questions regarding benefits and vacation, etc.)

-Research the company.
Use all the tools available to you to get to know the company, their product/service, their market share. Do your homework. Find out as much as you can. LinkedIn, SEC Filings/annual reports, Hoover’s, press releases, white papers/case studies, marketing materials, professional contacts inside the company or their clients.

-Prepare questions about the company, the position, the team, the role. For example, why is this position open? (Backfill for someone, if so find out if they were promoted or is it a new position?)

If your initial phone screen goes well, some companies set up a follow up phone screen with a member of the hiring team. Generally, this conversation will drill more deeply into your industry and professional knowledge. Expect in depth questions about your past. Make sure you are familiar with *everything on your resume* and can discuss projects and relevant experience. If you are working with a headhunter, you can pretty much expect this to happen.

Remember, this is your first “live” contact with your potential new employer. Be professional yet engaging. I’ve had candidates start rattling off information by rote. This puts them in the “slush pile”.

Hopefully, you will make a great first impression and the company will want to bring you in for interviews.
Should You Pay To Have Your Resume Written? Wed, 15 Apr 2009 14:22:41 -0800 Conquent
I’ve seen more bad advice given by Career Counselors regarding resumes than I care to comment on lately. So how do you figure out if you are getting good advice? The trick is going to be finding out how close they are to the tools that store your resume (databases such as Monster, CareerBuilder, corporate websites, etc.). Applicant Tracking Systems, the databases that store resumes for both specific and generic jobs, have evolved in the last five years as technology has gotten more advanced. Here are a few questions to ask:

1) What Applicant Tracking Systems are you familiar with? (Some of the better known ones out there are Taleo, Unicru, WebHire, Prohire, iCIMS and Vurv.) If they don’t give you at least *two names* of systems you can Google to verify, they aren’t in touch with today’s technology and probably their methods are out of date.

2) What keywords would you recommend for my industry/discipline? Recruiters run searches based on very specific keywords. For example, in recruiting they should mention things like: ATS, applicant tracking, screen, interview, source, negotiate, account management, OFCCP, and maybe visa. Every job and industry has keyword concepts and “buzz” words that are part of what a resume should reflect. For example, recently I saw a request for someone to work on a biotech resume. I don’t feel confident enough in my knowledge of this field to follow up on the request.

3) How long should my resume be? This is a tricky question, because there is still a debate going on about how long is too long. I’m of the general opinion that two pages is OK if you have more than 5-7 years of experience, but many people still counsel one page is better. The best rule of thumb is whether your career includes more then two or three companies. Each entry takes up at least 2-4 lines just for the “entry” (employer, location, dates, job title, white space, etc.) If they categorically say “one page”, ask them how they structure the document to achieve this. If they say less is more, then seriously consider if they know what they are doing.

4) Do you suggest an objective or a summary statement? In today’s recruiting and resume “style” format, Summary Statements are preferred. Objectives are left over from the 80’s. They can be effective but again, if the person says “I always use an objective”, they may be seriously out of touch with the current market.

5) How would you advise me to prepare for our first meeting? How long should I expect our first meeting to last (can be live or over the phone)?If they don’t tell you to bring a few job descriptions, a list of your job history for the last five years and don’t tell you to set aside at least 45 minutes, they aren’t planning on giving you full attention and tailoring your resume to *you*, your aspirations, your goals.

6) Should I use a skill based resume, or a chronological version? *If* you are in job or industry where you work with *multiple clients* at the same time using the same skill, the answer should be skill based or combination. If you have been working for single employers most/all of your career, the answer should be reverse chronologic with a skills *section*. If they only answer they give you is “skill based” then they don’t know the current technology and what recruiters and hiring managers are looking for.

I cannot advise on prices, as this varies widely based on location, but you should get an upfront fee in writing, and it should include one document (.doc, .pdf) *and* one .txt version for copy/pasting to databases.

Finally, you should have an understanding of *how* the consultant constructed your resume based on the experience. ]]>
Reference Requests After A Layoff Wed, 15 Apr 2009 14:25:42 -0800 Conquent
My friend is frustrated because many of the online applications he is filling out have a “references” section. Truthfully, I was suprised he was giving out references before he obtained an offer.

Here are a few things to keep in mind. Just as you should not put your references on your resume, you do not want them on any online applications. You *only* want your references to be contacted when you are seriously in contention for a job. Putting them into databases makes them targets for marketing and sales cold calls, which most people don’t appreciate and could jeopardize their willingness to be a reference for you.

When you *are* at the stage that you need your references, very often they are willing to have a *phone call* with your potential new employer. Many companies have strict policies against giving references for co-workers and managers in writing, but when I am checking references I often find that people are willing to answer questions over the phone.

So get cell phone or home phone numbers as well as personal email addresses when you are approaching your colleagues. Ask what they prefer as far as contact method. And above all, respect their privacy and requests. ]]>
The Business Wed, 15 Apr 2009 14:29:37 -0800 Conquent
I labeled my resume series “Saleskit”, which is true. If there is one thing I have learned in the last dozen plus years in business (not just in recruiting) it’s that *every* job has elements of project management and sales. Whether it’s pitching an idea for a new process to improve operations, or taking a customer order at a restaurant and then making sure it is served, understanding basic business concepts is a universal need. Knowing these things is what points to a person as someone that “gets it” and a person that doesn’t. It has nothing to do with age and everything to do with attitude and an openness to learning.

Over on LinkedIn a couple of weeks ago, someone was asking the question about “when is someone a project manager”? She was trying to quantify the job and determine whether certain job titles could be considered “project managers”. In this instant, it was someone that is an event planner. The answer is, yes, this can be considered a project management related field.

Many people have trouble writing their resumes because they don’t know how to categorize what they do. Let’s take the restaurant example. You have been a server at a short order restaurant like Denny’s, and now you want to move onto a nicer venue with (hopefully) more money. You know you have been practicing customer service and cashiering, but how else to do take your experience and make it stand out?

Don’t forget the sales aspect of your job, including the marketing. As part of the “service” you provide, this includes product knowledge and expertise as well as upselling (”Can I interest you in any dessert?”) You may also be responsible as part of your job for monitoring supply levels of items like condiments and dressings. Any time you help train a new employee, that is worth mentioning on your resume.

A good way to look at some of the “buzz words” in your industry is to look at online job descriptions. Look for management jobs in your industry, even if you aren’t applying for them. Why? Because management jobs are geared for the person with *business knowledge* and will have phrases and concepts that should be applicable to multiple aspects of the business. For example, here is a job posting for a Restaurant Manager in Cleveland from Craigslist:

Under the guidance of the General Manager the qualified candidate will have the responsibility for aggressively driving store sales growth and profits through a thoroughly trained customer focused workforce; and ensure timely execution of company merchandising and operational programs. The trainee will set the pace by demonstrating a high sense of urgency, high energy level, attention to detail and hands-on management.

Preferred Qualifications:
**Two years of full service restaurant management experience
**Demonstrated success supervising and training 30 or more employees.
**Proven skills in analyzing P&L information and taking appropriate and decisive action to meet budget expectations
**Must be able to work a variety of shifts including nights and weekends and a minimum of 50 hours per week

Key word/phrases that a *server* can take away are: “sales growth, merchandising, training.” One of the terms that would apply more to someone with *business* knowledge is P & L, which stands for “profit and loss”. Think of the things you do as part of your job that have to do with “sales growth” and “merchandising”. How do you build the restaurant’s business? Do you have repeat customers that come in every week and always request your section? Do you help with ordering supplies or creating product displays? Have you come up with ideas to help promote the business like special coupons or “Senior Days”?

The reality is that you are responsible for learning about business; your industry, business principles, best practices, terminology and then learning how to apply them. Learning includes asking questions and researching. Application can and should include documentation such as…your resume. ]]> Fri, 17 Apr 2009 19:52:18 -0800 Conquent Annoying LinkedIn Trends Fri, 17 Apr 2009 19:52:25 -0800 Conquent
So here is what is happening. Someone on one of my many online communities sees my email address and realizes I know a lot of people; or, conversely, they pull me up in a LinkedIn search (people, occupations, companies, etc.) and realize I probably have valuable network contacts. They contact me and where it states how this person knows me, they choose "Seattle Chapter of the Daughters Of The American Revolution." (Since my forebears immigrated here in the 19th Century this is pretty unlikely.) Sometimes, I will respond by commenting to the sender that I have no inkling of the group they are referencing, and usually I'll get a reply "Oh, I meant HRPN".

This says two things to me. One, you were sending out mass invites and you didn't bother to actually *add* or choose the correct group. Two, you don't know me at all. (Guess what? I'm a moderator of HRPN...I can check out whether you are a member of that group and when you joined!)

I'm *not* an open networker on LI. I want to be able to choose the people I add to my network based on actual connections. I am generally more disposed to accept invitations than not, but the truth is I'm getting pickier as I see more of these invites come across. I'm still being nice and not hitting the "I Don't Know This Person" tab and using the archive option (which is basically "ignoring" the invite), but I won't guarantee that isn't going to change in the future. ]]>
Transitioning University Students Tue, 21 Apr 2009 17:35:52 -0800 Conquent
But there *is* some good news: companies are trying to streamline their budgets and new grads are *cheaper* to employ in a lot of areas. It’s not an insult, just economics.

With that hopeful reality, here are a few tips.

1) Talk to Mom/Dad about whether or not you can return home if you are unable to find a job right out of school. Remember to address issues such as rent, expectations regarding your participation in the household. When I moved back home after I graduated, I’d been on my own for several years, was used to coming and going as I pleased. I paid a nominal rent, but my folks hadn’t dealt with an adult child and expected things to be similar to when I was a teenager. Eat with the family, help with chores, and even a curfew. I felt that I was renting a room and could live my life as I pleased. It was a tough adjustment period for all of us. Talk about these issues openly and make sure you set expectations early and realistically.

2) Be open to relocation. So many young adults return to their hometowns, only to find they cannot find a job. I know a young creative professional that got a degree in Media Arts. Her long-term goal is to work editing music videos. But she doesn’t want to move to the place she really needs to be…LA. She is insistent that she can do everything remotely from her hometown in Texas. She has been unsuccessful in finding a job over the past year and a half.

3) Don’t be too proud to accept help from your parents and their friends/colleagues. In our twenties, many of us are so focused on our independence that we refuse help from our most valuable network…our parents and their professional networks. Networking is the *single most important* way to finding a job. Your parents’ generation are often the ones making hiring decisions. Remember, they can get you the contact info, but it’s up to *you* to wow the person at the other end.

4) Speaking of networking, talk to professors, advisors, even T.A.’s at school. If you are in a fraternity/sorority, connect with your local alumni to network. Sign up for the alumni newsletters. If you are on a sports team, talk to your coach. You might find out he still keeps in touch with the goalie he coached fifteen years ago that is now a manager at a large company that has entry-level openings. Most people are always happy to help a fellow alum.

5) Consider a part-time job. Employers prefer someone working at the local movie theater in the evenings while they are job searching over someone that doesn’t do anything for the year after graduation.

6) If you are at all motivated, consider a volunteer or overseas job like teaching English in another country or joining the Peace Corps. Now is the time to have a great adventure and expand your horizons beyond imagining. And it looks great on your resume.

7) Your local state Unemployment Office is a great free resource for things like writing resumes, interview skills, and general information on the local economy. You don’t have to be on UI to take advantage of it.

8) Social and Business Networking sites like Twitter , LinkedIn , Facebook, and professional organizations can yield you invaluable contacts. Find a recruiter that is willing to look over your resume and give you pointers. There are *tons* of articles and blogs out there with solid advice on how to use these networks effectively.

9) Money: save it, don’t spend it. Now is not the time to go crazy with your graduation money on things like clothes and tech toys. You’ll need some professional attire for interviews, of course. But be frugal. Don’t run up credit card bills. Shop around for apartments and roommates if you are moving out; hit Craigslist for furniture if you don’t have any. Go to garage sales for household items like dishes. Ikea is your friend. If you need a new car, try and get a serviceable vehicle you can pay cash for rather than get into debt with car payments. You can always trade it in after you start getting money from a new job.

10) Health Insurance. You are not indestructible, and you are no longer eligible for your parents’ insurance. It is absolutely *vital* that you have health insurance. Individual policies are relatively cheap for young, healthy folks. Try a site like for individual rates.

11) Ask older siblings or other resources for help. Let’s be honest, your folks love you but they have not been in your position for a long time (hopefully) and they may not understand what you need and the tools you need to get there.

12) DO consider paying dues to join a professional association. Paying annual dues can give you discounts on events, access to new trends and contacts like member directories.

Most of all, keep your spirits up and don’t get frustrated if you aren’t employed by the 1st of July after graduating in June. Take time out for yourself. Get together with your friends, volunteer (great resume fodder!), enjoy nature, exercise regularly. ]]>
Helping to Demystify COBRA Wed, 22 Apr 2009 06:31:54 -0800 Conquent
Health insurance rates have been skyrocketing, along with the cost of health care. Millions of Americans are uninsured. Being without access to health care is scary.

So how does COBRA work? When you leave an employer, by law they are required to allow you to continue on with the plan if you pay the *full premium*. (Most employers pay a portion or all of your monthly premium). They must provide this coverage option to you for up to 18 months after you leave employment if the company has over a certain number of employees.

In January the Federal Government passed an emergency amendment designed to deal with COBRA issues. The government is subsidizing up to 65% of premiums for anyone involuntarily terminated between September and December of 2008 for up to nine months.

So before you bypass COBRA, take a look at some of the resources available and make an informed decision.

Here is a great article detailing some of the information and a link explaining the changes. (portal for exploring options) (rate quotes for individuals)
Job Seeking vs. Online Dating Fri, 24 Apr 2009 08:21:50 -0800 Conquent
I've often mused that today's recruiting practices are very much like online dating. Profile matches (daters = candidate and job). Exchange initial contacts (email, phone screens), meet in person to check out the chemistry, then decide from there.

Here is my response:

Say you are single and using online dating sites to meet people. You have three women that all have interesting profiles, write witty emails that really resonate with you, and your phone conversations with each of them have been stimulating and interesting. You are now moving on to the face to face meeting with each of them, consisting of dinner at a nice (but not overly fancy restaurant) and going to an upscale jazz club.

So, your first date is with Wendy. She shows up, looks just like her very cute picture; she's wearing a nice sweater and pair of slacks. She's a bit shy although the has no problem answering your questions and slowly warms up. You have a nice time.

Second date is with Nancy. She shows up looking like an ad for Nike; cross trainers and a white workout hoodie with yoga pants. Conversation is great, lots of smiles and laughs, good chemistry. You get to the jazz bar and are refused entrance because of the dress code.

Finally you meet Lisa. She walks in looking like a supermodel wearing a smart business suit, high heels, every hair is perfectly in place. Dinner is lively, you're completely wowed by her. She gives you all the right cues that she's interested.

So, who would you want to continue to go out with based on an initial online ad, exchanging email, talking on the phone and a live meeting?

Granted this is a fictional metaphor, but every company is looking for a cultural as well as functional fit. The person that is going to get the job needs to be able to sell themselves as well as their skills. If you don't at least make the effort to impress your potential employer, what does that say about how important this opportunity is to you?

He said my answer actually made a lot of sense :)

The History of Change - An Overview Sat, 25 Apr 2009 11:06:01 -0800 Conquent
I've been so focused on finding the right skill set for existing industry positions and how the economy is effecting recruiting, I have almost had a block up against the thought of anyone trying to "change" not only career path, but also switch industries.

Lately I've been following a lot of talk about the effect of age in the employment arena, namely laying off/hiring practices with regard to the older employee. One of the main arguments (as I've stated, documented, counseled how to overcome, etc.) from those that practice ageism is that many older workers are inflexible when it comes to adopting and embracing change. And I realize that my block against career change could conceivably be construed as an example of that whole resistance to change. At an even more base level, it's a fear-generated reaction; I'm admitting that in a spurt of overall self-examination and growth.

But here's the thing: I'm *not* resistant to change. I love trying new tools and processes, giving them a "test run" to see if they might make my life easier and more interesting. For example, I joined the Twitter revolution a couple of months ago, and have quickly learned how to use it effectively for my needs, and understanding the business impact it can have across multiple industries. I've tried two independent applications and even a new social media browser, in a delighted attempt to explore this whole culture evolving in the personal and professional realms.

A large majority of people reach a point in their lives where they want to sit back and enjoy the fruits of twenty, thirty, or more years of hard work, overall growth in life, and accomplishments. Maybe they are just *tired* of constantly trying to be moving up, being agile and managing constantly changing elements around them and having *responsibilities*. They look back and see how complex things have gotten and long for a return to a simpler time. I see this as being a form of burnout, honestly.

Culturally the last fifty years have been about growth and acquisition. Money, possessions, prestige, power. We have started the downward slope of the bell curve. We can look to the industrial age, the excesses of the twenties and the great Depression as examples; the rise and fall of the Roman Empire or Classical Greece; the Middle Ages on through the Renaissance. Over and over we see these bell curves. And for some reason, we keep repeating the patterns.

As a species, we are uniquely suited to change and adaptability. Individually, I believe the majority of people are focused on "necessities". But with these changes, we have to change our cultural definitions of "necessities". And once our cultural outlook changes, I believe "change" won't evince such a gut fear reaction. Hopefully we can look at the last 2000 years our "Lessons" won't be so cataclysmic to learn.
Resume Tips for College Freshman and Sophomores Tue, 28 Apr 2009 11:40:00 -0800 Conquent
The basic rule of thumb for writing any resume is that whatever you put on your resume should be 1) Recent within two-three years 2) Applicable to what you are looking at doing. "Relevant" is a very subjective term. If getting a job is your goal, you want to present yourself in the best light possible overall, obviously.

If you are a freshman or sophomore, the first thing to remember is that prospective employers are looking for work and applicable collegiate experience demonstrating leadership, teamwork, and initiative. You should first take an inventory of your *current* college experiences to see what you can pull from it. Do you have a part-time job? Have you done volunteer work during the school year? Are you a member of any clubs or sport teams, or receiving any honors (academic honors, like Dean's list or on any sort of scholarship). Have you worked on any projects like a class presentation that has given you skills such as public speaking, research, and perhaps using PowerPoint? These are the items you need to think of first. If you are a sophomore are you perhaps an RA?

Work or volunteer experience should come first after your education section. *Education is always first on a collegiate resume until after one full year out of college or a full time job in that time*. It is always in reverse chronologic order, meaning most current to oldest. If you are a freshman, I wouldn't recommend going back any further than your junior year in HS unless you had some exceptional experience your freshman or sophomore year, or you held the same job multiple years running (like a summer job). Sophomores shouldn't go back any further than their senior year, or again, to call attention to something exceptional (an example would be a foreign exchange student your Junior year.)

Freshman and sophomores may have a minimum of actual work experience from their collegiate years, and they may be satisfying basic requirements that aren't specialized toward their majors; or, alternatively, they may not even have chosen a major yet. In this case, high school may provide the best source of "experience" for them. In my own case, the summer after my senior year, I babysat
for a family. I was actually more of a nanny, and that was a valid job to put on my resume at the time.

Here is how I would write such an entry (I'm dating myself here!)

Summer Child Care/Nanny - Foote Family
June-August 1984
Westlake, OH
Responsible for full time weekday care of three children ages 15 months - 12 years old and assorted household chores. Duties included devising activities for the children, feeding them lunch, ensuring the toddler took assigned naps, keeping the household for two working parents (ie cleaning, laundry, dishes, etc.)

The main thing to remember is that your high school years should not overshadow your collegiate experience. You want prospective employers to see your potential and work ethic *now*, not two or three years ago. ]]>
A Twitter Success Story Thu, 30 Apr 2009 08:15:25 -0800 Conquent
2) Two days ago, I got an email from my family in OH requesting niche job board recommendations for friend of my brother.

3) I did a bit of research on niche job boards, and found out that the prestigious organization has a job opening that fits the resume of the family friend looking for a job.

4) Send resume to contact, who forwarded it on to the appropriate recruiter, who sent me an email requesting the candidate/family friend to apply online.

5) Forwarded the email to the family friend *with recruiter contact including name, email address, and phone number*. She now has a direct person to contact.

6) Am having dinner with my original Twitter contact when I'm in OH in 2 weeks.

That, my friends, is what networking is all about. ]]>
Resume Summary: Generic Soft Skills vs. Career Competencies Thu, 21 May 2009 00:56:30 -0800 Conquent
Examples: Critical thinker, Excellent Verbal and Written Communication Skills, Strong Cross-group collaboration, A strong leader known for the ability to motivate others.

Guess what? I rattled that off in about 30 seconds. Know why? *EVERYONE PUTS IT ON THEIR RESUMES*. And it tells me *nothing*. For my writer friends, this is an example where I want you to "show don't tell".

Here is what I want: I want your professional competencies versus your soft skills on a resume. Your competencies are the things you learn on the job that are endemic to your field and industry. A couple of examples:

Instead of "Excellent Verbal and Written Communication Skills" I would prefer:
-Trilingual (English, German, Dutch) marketing manager with experience creating localized international web-based ad campaign resulting in a $3M increase in revenue over six months across the entire business unit

Rather than telling me "A strong leader known for the ability to motivate others" try:
-Manager responsible for software engineering teams between 12-19 with a 22% increase in productivity by introducing Agile Development methodology.

You want to orient your reader immediately to *you* professionally.Statistics are huge. How many managed, % increase/decrease, $ revenue earned/overhead cut, hours/time saved on project implementation.

Or, at the very least, orient me directly to what your key *industry and professional skills are*. (OK, admittedly this is my opening summary statement):

Strong Talent Acquisition professional with diverse experience recruiting technology, finance/operations, HR, sales/marketing, legal, R & D candidates, Professional Services. Proven success of sourcing diversity candidates. Experience interfacing with executive staff and management. Excellent history of creating and implementing unique sourcing strategies. International recruiting initiatives.

The point is, give your reader information that s/he can work with, that makes you stand out as an individual and not as another list of generic skills that everyone else is using.

. ]]>
What Do You Mean By "Keyword"? Wed, 27 May 2009 19:55:08 -0800 Conquent
Do use bullet points; don't use bullet points. Do have a keyword-based competency list, don't use the space up. One page, two pages. More details, less content.

OK first things to consider. That 1/3 - 1/2 of the top front page is your valuable real estate. This is where you get the "most bang for your buck". More and more commonly (thankfully, IMHO) we are seeing professional summaries. This is the single most effective place to put some *punch* if you are a seasoned professional. You probably want to put a short profile or summary statement at the top to orient your reader. It should indicate your profession (and also what you *want* to do, as so many professionals wear many hats today) in 2-3 sentences. Talk about specialties or industries as appropriate. It will be different for each person, and you may have more than one resume with this section.

Next comes the "keyword" section. Now, way too many people take this literally to be a set of "words". In my last post this is where I mentioned the generic soft skills vs. competencies. Personally, I prefer to see a list of 5-7 examples of things you have done *with those key words in them*. No more than that or it starts to look too much like a functional resume. Below are some terms that I received last year from someone asking for help with her resume. This was literally her second page and the front was crammed and unreadable.

Technical Writing/Editing
Business/Industrial Communications
Scientific/Technical Communications
Engineering Communications
Internal/Organizational Communications
Corporate Communications
Electronic and Desktop Publishing
Documentation Layout and Design
Technical Documentation Group (international
and domestic and reports)
Customer Liaison
Bids and Proposals

Basically she wasted all that space telling me a variety of things she could do, without any context whatsoever. So what we did was take her competencies and put them in context:

-Freelance writer with expertise in authoring scientific articles on subject such as geology, meteorology, and biology for academic journals.

-Technical writer with a strong understanding of software documentation such as user manuals, training materials, software SDK, multi-lingual localization (French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean).

-Experience with contracts such as software licensing agreements, construction management RFP's, web development bids and project proposals

Then, below each of these statements she outlined the appropriate skills or projects for the audience she was addressing rather than one list of skills that *might* turn up in a keyword search for fifteen different different positions.

Your reader wants context, not just a list of words.

It's also important to note that *this is the section that should be tailored for individual jobs you are pursuing*. In the example above, because she had such a diverse background, each of those points would set the tone for the rest of her resume and more examples. So she had one scientific writing version, one for software technical writing, one more focused toward project management and internal business communications.

Regarding format: *most* recruiters I have spoken with prefer a short outline of each position with bullet points highlighting your accomplishments.

As the technology that recruiters use for evaluating candidates has changed, so has the style of resume construction changed to meet that technology. Long ago, candidates were advised to keep their professional history to one page. "Less was more". Your resume is a "teaser". This was when you were typing your resume on a typewriter and then mailing it with a paper cover letter to a company. Those days are long gone.

Nowadays, recruiters *do* use keyword searches, based on the job description. *Resume database search tools return results stack ranked based on the number of times a search term is repeated in the resume.*

What does this mean? Basically you want to make sure you repeat key terms at least 2-3 times throughout your resume. But again, not just as a string of words. *CONTEXTUALLY*. How did those skills relate to your professional history? This includes your *title*, your *accomplishments*, your *summary*, your *company*.

Most importantly to remember, your resume is a work in progress. It should morph and change and you shouldn't be afraid to try a new format or restructure it. If it works, stick with it. If not, try something new.

What Is That Acronym? Wed, 24 Jun 2009 17:54:44 -0800 Conquent

They were as stumped as I was. Reading through the resume, we ascertained that the candidates were indicating their education level. And we all *also* agreed that it was inappropriate.

I've repeatedly stressed the importance of *targeted* information on your resume. With as many people out of work that each candidate is competing against, trying to be "clever" or to stand out can backfire on you in a major way.

Certifications are issued by governing bodies that establish and administer standards and then test that knowledge with rigorous *professional* examinations.

An advanced degree may be required to take the certification tests, but the degree is not the certification designation. For example, an attorney, or Esq., requires a JD. But the award of a Doctorate Jurisprudence is indicated in the appropriate educational placement. "Esquire" indicates that the attorney has passed the bar exam. Not all people with JD's are attorneys.

Save the certification acronyms unless you've taken the *tests*. I'll find out you have a BA or MA or MS when I read the education section. ]]>
Truth Or Consequences Sat, 11 Jul 2009 10:09:15 -0800 Conquent <br />
They lied on their applications. Specifically, they failed to disclose criminal convictions. <br />
<br />
It is important to keep in mind that criminal convictions will not necessarily bar you from employment in most jobs. There are some guidelines, of course. If you have two DUI's in the last three years, chances are you won't be eligible to be a driver, but that doesn't mean you wouldn't be considered for a sales position, for example. <br />
<br />
Applications for employment are *legal documentation*. And they are the first &quot;official&quot; line of trust between you and&nbsp; a new employer. Why would an employer want to hire you if you start off your relationship with a lie? <br />
<br />
Background checks of any kind are confidential. If a past conviction is disclosed but does not have a direct bearing on the responsibilities of the position, the hiring manager never sees the results of it. Only HR has access to this sort of information. So not disclosing it for fear of looking bad for your new boss is a needless worry. <br />
<br />
So do yourself and us all a favor. Be honest. It really *is* the best policy. </p> ]]>
The Resume "Black Hole" Tue, 14 Jul 2009 17:56:34 -0800 Conquent <p>&quot;Wow, you've found HR people who actually read resumes? That's a shock.&quot;<br />
<br />
Regarding resumes being read: remember that recruiters are pulling keyword searches and the resumes that match the searches are the only ones they are considering.<br />
<br />
Many of the companies in this area including MSFT and *all it's vendors/agencies* are required to be compliant with a Federal EEO mandate that basically states that *all qualified candidates must be considered* for any/all <span id="lw_1247619829_2" class="yshortcuts" style="background: transparent none repeat scroll 0% 0%; cursor: pointer; -moz-background-clip: -moz-initial; -moz-background-origin: -moz-initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: -moz-initial;">open positions</span>.<br />
<br />
What this means is that if your resume doesn't match the job description, no one is going to look at it. There are two levels for considering a resume from a recruiting perspective.<br />
<br />
1) Keyword pull. As I've posted several times in the past, <span id="lw_1247619829_3" class="yshortcuts" style="border-bottom: 1px dashed rgb(0, 102, 204); cursor: pointer;">Applicant Tracking Systems</span> pull Boolean Searches based on two things. First, the words themselves. Second, the results are STACK RANKED based on the number of times the term/s are repeated in the resume. This includes experience and education, location (ie out of state), etc.<br />
<br />
2) Once a recruiter has pulled a stack of loosely qualified resumes, s/he eyeballs them to see if the candidate meets the quantifiables, ie years of experience. Applicant Tracking Systems cannot determine if a candidate has over five years of experience. That is where the &quot;eyeballing&quot; human action comes in.<br />
<br />
3) AFTER the candidates have been identified, they have to be moved along in the system. Often that is a manual process, which means that *each profile* has to be assigned some sort of a status.<br />
<br />
Now please imagine the number of resumes each of us have to look through for *one* position. Yesterday, I spent six hours looking through over 250 resumes for an entry level office position. We are completely inundated with people applying for each position, many of them unqualified or just grasping at whatever seems remotely like a job they are qualified for.<br />
<br />
So what does this say to you? *Your resume needs to be TARGETED* to each position. And it also should tell you that most recruiters are ignoring cover letters. On top of all the resumes, we are still setting up interviews, scheduling phone screens, conducting reference checks, managing live interview loops, negotiating offers with candidates, and working with our hiring managers on both current and upcoming positions. Recruiting is a complex profession, it is heavily regulated by legal strictures, and a recruiter isn't the only person in the process. Our main clients are our hiring managers, and recruiting, while important to them, is *not* always their highest priority. Recruiters have really had a heavy hit with this economy. Fewer jobs open mean fewer resources needed and assigned to fill them. Most of us are carrying double or triple our &quot;normal&quot; workload because of downsized colleagues. And if a company doesn't have dedicated recruiters, but has&nbsp; their <span id="lw_1247619829_4" class="yshortcuts" style="border-bottom: 1px dashed rgb(0, 102, 204); cursor: pointer;">HR Generalists</span> function in this capacity as well as their generalist duties, this is in addition to dealing with things like employee issues, changes in federal laws and compliance, etc.<br />
<br />
So please, keep this in mind when getting frustrated with the &quot;black hole&quot; you feel your resume has entered. </p>
<p>&nbsp;</p> ]]>
Direct Marketing Yourself to Employers Fri, 31 Jul 2009 19:00:00 -0800 Conquent Basically, after researching companies via Dunn and Bradstreet, the candidate writes a "proposition letter" based on an open position or perceived value-add that the candidate could bring to the company. After this letter is written, it is put in an odd-sized envelope and sent to the decision maker/s. Preferably a hiring manager or C-level executive.

My feeling, as was almost unanimously agreed with from the recruiting community, is that this method is outdated and out of touch with today's methodology for contacting *anyone*. We suggested using LinkedIn and networking through mutual business contacts. There was a member of our community that attended the seminar where this idea was first presented who stated that it does work, that there were people at the seminar that had tried it and actually gotten a response.

That being said, I decided to post the idea (as originally stated, looking for opinions outside of the HR world) on a couple of social media sites (LinkedIn Answers and Facebook). I got a couple of interesting responses from outside the HR/recruiting population (and some of the HR folks did chime in.) Below are the responses. So, this may be an alternative method to try when all else fails. It certainly can't hurt, although the cost is a bit more than using electronic means.
Anything you do to keep on get on someone's mind and keep there attention there is good. For the people who say content is the most important look at any marketing you have ever seen. Most of the stuff isn't the greatest but people buy it anyway because its on there mind.

On the oddsized envelope it will probably work because I know I am more inclined to open odd sized pieces. Also with your note about D and B you should look at that and identify strong companies and mention that you did research on them.

Anything you do will put you farther ahead than doing nothing.

(Account Executive for a printing biz)
And what is a proposition letter? What and who are you propositioning? A one night stand with someone you don't even know? Sure, an interesting or odd size envelope will catch someone's attention, they might even open it, but what will make them read what's inside? One glance at a 'proposition' and into the trash it goes. A good resume, well designed, thought out and well written that gives the reader, at a glance, who you are, what you do, what your skills and talents are, and work history succinctly, is worth all the contrivances in the world. A directed resume to companies in your sphere of expertise and the hiring manager of your particular department is even better. Don't listen to all this nonsense you've been listening too. Who knows if these companies have openings or need someone with your background. Doing selective research on companies that need your experience and background is far more worthwhile. Otherwise, you might as well go and apply at Home Depot. What sort of position are you truly looking for? That is the key question you should ask yourself. Good luck in your search. I hope this helps. (Recruiter)
I haven't answered this via the Yahoo group, but my thinking is this would only be potentially workable IF the person had a solid networking contact to whom they could send the 'proposition letter' within the company...and if that was the case, it would be better to try and make a connection with that person rather than just sending them this letter.

I can't see any corporate recruiter reading this. Matthew Charney's ERE post today (linked) gives a pretty clear overview of how most recruiters 'triage' resumes. I think this letter would likely be treated much like a cover letter in 99% of cases by a recruiter--especially if it doesn't fit with their current req load.
Dear Kristen, I think it would certainly attract attention but I also believe ultimately it will be substance over style. The proposition letter would need to be personally tailored to get my attention enough to follow up. (University Career counselor )
I just finished a book that was proposing a similar approach. It proposes that we are leaving the age of traditional jobs and are shifting into a time of project like work. If true, then this is a fabulous way to attract attention to your skills.

I personally have had success in the off sized and colored envelope. It looks more like a birthday card or invitation. You see? It is to get them to open it, then if you have teasers that grab their attention to a particular need. (watch the industry publications for problems and assess your skills for solutions-offer them up.)

Try this one- Sympathy card: with hope attached.
Is your business suffering along with the economy right now?
Let's check your "essential systems" and see what we can tuneup.
If you are hearing the thump of a business slump hitting your door, ask yourself: Is it time for a visit from a specialist? I work on a success only basis, after we visit if I don't think I can help I will recommend someone who can. I'm in the solution business. (Trainer for eCommerce company)
Sounds a bit desperate to me - and being in an odd sized envelope would indicate carelessness to me.

Perhaps use of a coloured but right size envelope would draw attention to it - but so what? Regardless of how much attention the packaging gets, it's still all about the content. (Director of Accounts Financial Sector)
One of the things we've tried before when hiring for Consultants to work for us is to write a letter to people we've identified (and whose addresses we have) telling them about us and the position we want to talk to them about and asking them to get in touch.

The response rate was WAY higher than it would have been had we done the same thing via e-mail, so based on that alone I'd suggest that it's not a bad idea at all.

In amongst a sea of technology, the letter has become forgotten. (CEO boutique staffing firm)
I think it's crass. It ought to be the contents of the envelope that are interesting but we live in such a ludicrous world it wouldn't surprise me if such a pointless stunt actually paid off.
What with "Keyword Bingo" and the "20-30 Second Scan" we are already giving preference to style over substance, so does it matter if we use just a bit more as we slip slowly into the abyss of idiocy? Probably not.

Why not single out a selection of prospective employers and stand outside their offices pelting the windows with rocks wrapped in copies of your CV? (Freelance copy editor/author)
Personally, I like the idea. Considering the economy and competition, whatever one has to do to pull themselves ahead of the pack, good for them. Either it'll work or it won't but (what's the saying?) "nothing beats a try but a something"...someone help me out.... (Office manager for a consulting company)
Any form of "direct" marketing - direct mail, email, etc. - has both advantages and challenges. The figures I'm about to quote come from my own decades of experience, but I offer these "penetration rates" as examples. (Back in the days when we could follow up by telephone, we phoned after each wave.)

1. Single ink-on-paper piece sent USPS bulk rate or first class: 2% penetration (if we were lucky).

2. Multiple ink-on-paper pieces (a series, in a campaign) sent the same way: 35% penetration.

3. Multiple three-dimensional pieces (boxes, tubes, in a series) sent via UPS: 85-95% penetration.

To directly answer your theory, Kristen: Any time you can arrest a recipient's attention, it is a "good thing." A personalized letter in an oddly-sized or colored (or both) envelope will tend to get through more frequently. HOWEVER, there's no guarantee that the proposition will appeal.

To increase penetration and generate an appointment, try following up each mailed letter with a telephone call. This actually works far better if you send the letter three-day FedEx or similar - another well-learned lesson.

I'd be fascinated to learn how this comes out - but I do urge you to consider putting this question to direct-response professionals - more light, less heat. (Marketing professional)
We get those all the time here. I throw them away. There are services that are doing this for people. The letters are almost all the same and are normally addressed to our company owner in a very familiar fashion as though they are writing a note to an old friend. Something like "Dear Bob, I just wanted to drop you a note and let you know that I'm willing to take on that challenge that we discussed".
(Office manager for a custom manufacturing business)
If there is no employment opening, this is a waste for both (non) "applicant" and HR.... And in HR, I want to know *exactly* what position he's applying for, stated clearly in his formal cover letter - don't make me guess. I'm okay with differentiating color/texture of paper, or sending flat vs folded, but I need to be able to put that non-standard piece of paper in a standard file folder at some point.
(Event Manager at a Non-profit)
I've seen it work, but only for candidates for whom traditional approaches would have worked as well. In every case, the candidate was a great match for something the organization needed. (Career Counselor/Organizational Development Consultant)

No Need to SHOUT IT OUT! Sun, 2 Aug 2009 22:27:34 -0800 Conquent
I was recently involved in an online discussion that developed into a contentious debate. One of the participants in the email discussion (of about five people) used bolded 15 point text and capitalized every other word to try and make her point. She was defensive and accusatory to people that differed in opinion with her, and took her dialogue in the "flame" category.

I have no idea what her age, but her style of communication came across as juvenile and annoying. It is sad that she probably does not realize how incredibly bad an impression she was making on the recruiting community she was addressing. Part of the discussion had to do with networking and job seeking techniques and strategies, and she either forgot or didn't understand one of the cardinal rules: always keep it professional.

Email and other written forms of communication can be tricky. We lose so much of the meaning and context that can be imbued in the spoken word, even the tone of voice over the phone. By using ALL CAPS TO MAKE YOUR POINT, and combining it with nothing but negative observations, it really leaves a bad impression on the reader.

So please, leave the SHOUT in the laundry room. ]]>
Come On In! Thu, 13 Aug 2009 21:31:09 -0800 Conquent
I've been receiving a lot of requests from frustrated Seattleites who know that I am connected and are floundering in the morass of job boards, networking events, social networking and resume workshops, WorkSource appointments, etc.

One of the most frustrating things in this area is that we have a huge number of employment agencies. Microsoft literally changed the way the contingent staffing (hiring agency contractors) and temporary staffing business model looks, and their example has spread throughout not only Seattle, but the tech market in general.

When the "Dot Bomb" (as I lovingly refer to the 1998-2001 employment downturn) hit, many of us fled to the agencies for jobs to keep ourselves afloat. I ended up backat Microsoft (after being positive I would never go back in 1998) after being laid off from The agencies have always been a refuge in times of employment turmoil for many of us.

But now, agencies are feeling the recession (or depression, depending on your economic outlook) even more than ever. But they cannot afford to show that they are floundering, less their reputation suffer and they lose clients. So they are putting up job openings that may or may not be legitimate while their business development/account managers work incredibly hard to drum up business (I wrote a whole blog on that on my ERE page, the largest portal for recruiters. Just google my name+ERE).

I mentioned the "resume black hole" a couple of posts ago. So here is where we go back to old fashioned basics. If you have applied for a number of positions that an agency has open and you haven't heard anything or your recruiter seems to have fallen off the face of the earth, I have a suggestion: go through the front door during business hours. Yes, put on a suit or other suitable business attire, take a hard copy of your resume and two-three of the open jobs that you have applied for *and are qualified for based on the job description* and just go to their offices. Ask to speak to a recruiter that handles the types of positions you are applying to.

This doesn't work for corporate recruiters, because of the sort of process we have, but when I worked at Volt, this happened at least once a week or so. It seems so antithetical to all the information out there ab out emailing and networking, but honestly, sometimes you just need to remember that a face to face meeting is the best way to make an impression. ]]>
On Being A Recruiter Fri, 21 Aug 2009 23:27:17 -0800 Conquent ===========================================================
OK, last night one of my coworkers and I went to the Seattle Job Social. And by coworker I mean someone on my team. We work recruiting for the UW *Medical Centers*. I spent about 3 hours yesterday afternoon finding, formatting and printing as many IT, marketing, and training-related jobs as I could from our database that I could find, as I know that these seem to be the populations most represented at the SJS. We went as the face of UW, because we certainly didn't expect to find any nurses, phlebotomists, or surgery technicians at a primarily IT-industry population event.

As of last May, I was unemployed. I worked my network to try and drum up some freelance business, and some of my colleagues that were still employed sent me some work, but I never made a dime off of that work. I met with a lot of unemployed friends, acquaintances, referrals, etc. Last night on my way to the job social I made a call to someone looking for some career transition advice. I've met with or spoken to many of you on this list to try and help out, and I am happy to do so. And I know for a fact that I'm not alone. *Every* employed recruiter is spending time above and beyond their "work hours" trying to help people both singularly and in general. I know that I am one of the more accessible recruiters in Seattle, and I made that choice consciously.

I empathize and feel for those of you that are having trouble getting calls back from recruiters, both internally and in the agencies. Due to my extensive contracting history, I'm much more cognizant of the candidate experience than a lot of recruiters, and I have *withdrawn* my candidacy from companies that have treated me badly as a recruiting job candidate.

But please, do *NOT* generalize that recruiters don't care, are lazy, only hire their friends/family, ignore qualified candidates, don't give you the things you need to make your job hunt more successful etc ad nauseam. Unless you've *been* a recruiter, you have no idea of the intricate legal restrictions we have to follow in everything from how we post jobs, to consider candidates, to communicate with the disabled, to counsel and mentor our hiring managers. Each job (requisition in our parlance) is a *separate* repeated process with a wide variety of variance. Often, yes, a good recruiter will cross-market candidates to hiring managers, but when you have 25+ *different* skill sets you are recruiting for, that doesn't always work real well.

But the bottom line is that the final decision on who to interview and who to hire resides with the *hiring manager*. You want to know what is the *most* frustrating part of our job? Forming a relationship with a candidate, working to get them in front of a hiring manager and then having that manager *not get back to us* for days, weeks or even months on end. Or tell us after we have vetted candidates and presented them that "I need to revise the job description. I'm not seeing the right kind of candidate." Or put the job "on hold" because of budget issues, or a reorg, or any of another half dozen relatively common reasons. On top of that, just like every other profession in America, we are doing extra work to keep our organizations afloat. I'm writing training materials, working with our internal marketing team on employment branding strategies, helping my Director on getting our processes documented and best practices in place, and recruiting on
positions I was not *hired* to do but that my team needs help on. A 40-hour work week in corporate America right now? Dream on. When I was at Microsoft my workload and "extra" project load was even crazier.

Judge recruiters you have *spoken to* on an individual basis. But I'm telling you, from where I am sitting, every single negative comment that is made about recruiting and recruiters frustrates me, because you do *not* know what we, as a profession, are going through on a daily basis. ]]>
Defining the "Social" in Networking Sat, 10 Oct 2009 16:46:03 -0800 Conquent
Forming support groups for the unemployed is a great way to meet new people, hear about new trends, who's hiring, what methods seem to work and which don't. It is also a way to gain secondary contacts which may help you in your future endeavors. But it is a give and take. It is a *sharing* model. "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" mentality. People who only take and take and take without giving are going to be the people that are left standing by the side of the road when the economy picks up. And believe me, when times are tough, people remember the bad much more readily than they do the good.

That being said, there are some times when "social" is not appropriate. My current employer attends a lot of job fairs, both from a candidate generation (getting resumes) standpoint and from a basic community outreach position. We are a very well known employer and associated with a large organization (university). A couple of weeks ago, I was at an industry job fair, and there was a long line at our table. I repeated a lot of the same information, handed out the same brochures, and explained the process often. I noticed two things about the candidates that approached in particular. One was that many of them came in pairs. This isn't that unusual in economic times like ours. However, as a candidate, you need to be aware of the fact that there are people behind you and that I am very busy trying to help as many people as I can. So when you are chatting with your friend to the exclusion of all else, you give me the impression that you aren't really serious about finding a position. You have the opportunity to talk to me, ask me questions, get my contact information, and make a lasting impression. But if you act as if speaking to me is cutting into your social life, I guarantee I'm not going to even look at your resume let alone contact you for a job.

And speaking of impressions, I was appalled at the number of people that showed up in jeans and t-shirts, wearing tennis shoes or flip flops or other casual attire. I don't expect unemployed professionals to come to a job fair necessarily wearing a suit, but at least go to the trouble to put on a nice pair of pants/skirt and a collared shirt with appropriate shoes. You can find a lot of decent clothing at thrift stores or discount retail outlets that don't cost an arm and a leg. Or borrow something from a friend or family member. I'd rather see something stylistically outdated but still professional over the latest Juicy Couture t-shirt. You don't need to go out and get your hair dyed and your nails manicured, but take the time to run a brush through it and file your nails so that they look neat.

Remember that you only have one chance to make that vital first impression. Do your best to be perceived as professional, whether you are going to a job seekers networking lunch or a construction worker's job fair. I guarantee you it makes a difference. ]]>
A Full Moon? Thu, 15 Oct 2009 14:59:42 -0800 Conquent
But beyond that, I wonder what would happen to all the "crazy" people that really do seem to emerge when there is a full moon? I know it seems like an old wives' tale, but I have seen an increase in inexplicable behavior when the moon is full. Honest.

What makes us do things that seem to make little or no sense? For example, today I was at a job fair at a local community college. Signs everywhere that this was a *job* fair. I was there recruiting for the University. And we had several people come up to our table asking how they can transfer. (Come again? I have no idea, I work in *recruiting*. For *jobs*.) But I think the one that really threw me for a loop more than anything was the question "what kind of jobs do you have open?" My response is, "well, what are you looking for, what is your background?"\


OK, that really doesn't help me. If you are talking to employers, you should have a basic idea of what you are either interested in (you *are* in school, right? You must be studying *something*. Try using that for a guideline...) or what you have done in the past.

So please at least come a bit prepared when you are going to talk to me about jobs. Do us both a favor and try and make a good impression. Don't let NASA's experiments with blowing up the moon and changing the tides affect you like a maniac.

Make Sure To Come Prepared Thu, 22 Oct 2009 13:00:04 -0800 Conquent
Most of the candidates I meet have their "elevator pitch" down, which is good. It helps me zero in on what sorts of positions to discuss with them. But here's the part where almost everyone is losing ground. When I ask them what they are looking for and get one of these answers:

1) Anything
2) Well, what have you got?

My organization is quite large, and we have a number of recruiters. I don't know every job open for every department. So these two responses are really wasting my time, especially when there is a line behind the candidate to talk to us.

All job fairs have a list of employers posted before the fair. Candidates should take the time to look at the websites of these employers and bring *specific job descriptions* with them to ask recruiters about, including job codes that can usually be found on the website with the job description. It would also behoove them to bring a targeted resume along with that job description to submit to the recruiters in attendance. If the candidate is prepared in this manner, I can pair his/her resume with the job description and then route their resume to the recruiter that is handling that specific job.

If you find yourself attending job fairs in the future, please do yourself and potential employers a favor and come prepared.

"Breaker one niner, we have a Big Bird at 1 o'clock"... Wed, 4 Nov 2009 20:14:27 -0800 Conquent
She was quite unhappy when I informed her that I could not divulge that information to her, as legally it is restricted information. I did tell her how her daughter could access the information by logging into her profile on our website.

This was my first actual experience with a Generation Y Helicopter Parent, named for their tendency to hover and dart in to "help" their grown children along the road of their lives. This can refer to everything from helping them fill out applications, to giving them advice on who to date, what school to attend or employers to apply to and scheduling their interviews for them.

I have been reading about the Millenials for an upcoming presentation I'm preparing for about using social media for recruiting and retaining this up and coming generation. Among the very real attributes of Generation Y is that they are very tied to their parents, they are maturing emotionally at a slower rate than previous generations, and they need a very high level of feedback and communication from those around them.

Today I had my first live interaction with a Helicopter parent. I was at job fair, and a young man and older man walked up to our table with the fairly standard "what sort of jobs have you got?" I gave my reply, "well, what is your background?" I addressed my comment to the older gentleman as he had asked the question.

"He's looking for something in IT." I turned my attention to the young man and started asking some questions (pointedly ignoring his father). He started writing some notes down, and I turned back to his father and said, "and what sort of a position are you looking for?" He got flustered for a moment and then said that he had a job. I put on my best puzzled face for a few seconds and he had the grace to blush, mumble something to his son, and step back a few paces.

Most of the documentation I have been reading about these helicopter parents has to do with how they are handling their children's career decisions and the impact it is having on employers.

But while I absolutely applaud a young professional for wanting feedback from their family and valuing that feedback, when it comes to recruiting the public at large needs to understand something vital: we are an industry that has very tight legal strictures on what information we can and cannot share with anyone other than a candidate. On top of that, a candidate that chooses to involve his or her parent in every phase of the job seeking process stands a very good chance of coming across as incapable of making their own decisions which does not set a good tone with either a recruiter or a hiring manager.

Millenials and their families need to understand that any part of the interviewing and negotiation phase of job seeking is an individual activity. Candidates can absolutely rely on their parents to help them ask questions that are pertinent to the job or organization, and there is no question that their world experience and opinions can help a candidate make a solid decision on their best options and opportunities, but the candidate needs to be confident and assertive enough to ask those questions on their own, and be able to do so in a one-to-one situation. This means no having Mom or Dad sit in on an interview, no conference calling to discuss an offer with salary negotiation. Part of the process includes taking time to *negotiate*, so there is nothing wrong with saying "I have to think about your offer" and coming back with more questions, clarification, and even a counter-offer. But the bottom line is that in this very highly competitive market, we are only interested in hiring Jen or Joe, not Jen, Joe, their Mom and Dad.

Parents want the best for their children, and "hovering" is obviously a sign of love and caring. But part of the parenting process is learning to trust your child and the wonderful set of values you have instilled within them. Trust them, and trust yourselves to have done the right thing. Let them stand up straight and be the person you have always wanted them to be. ]]>
Prepping for a live interview Sat, 7 Nov 2009 21:42:48 -0800 Conquent
There are a couple of things I see a lot of when I'm interviewing a candidate or get feedback from a team member that has interviewed.

1) Make sure you have read the job description and if you have questions about the job or environment ask the recruiter before you go in. (Things like core business hours, size of the team, work environment, company culture). These would be considered company questions. As a candidate, I always ask the recruiter if there are press releases or marketing materials or external websites I can look at to help prepare for the interview. Then come with some questions about the product/service that you can ask specific team members. (See #3 ;)

2) Often an interviewer will describe a project, or the potential role, and a candidate gets fired up and interrupts the interviewer before they have finished what they are going to say. Always let the interviewer complete their thought/question.

3) ASK QUESTIONS. Most interviewers leave you about 10 minutes for questions of your own at the end. You want to seem interested. Some questions I ask interviewers is "tell me about a typical day", and "why did you decide to work here" and "are there any team dynamics that make this a particularly enjoyable/challenging environment?"

Request clarification if needed. For example, I had a phone screen last year and the manager asked me "tell me about your experience with compensation." I lobbed back at her "Do you mean compensation surveys and benchmarking or negotiation or understanding total comp versus base salary?" My response actually told her the answer to the question. My point is, you might get something that is not only "open ended" but has more than one possible way it can be answered. Ask for clarification. This sort of question is actually less about the answer than it is about the thought process and how you approach problem solving.

4) If you haven't done so, read up on behavioral based interviewing. This is how most businesses conduct interviews. The premise is that what you have done in the past is predictive of how you will re/act in the future. So you are going to be asked a ton of "tell me about a time when" sort of questions. You need to think about some situations that demonstrate your core business skills.

5) KNOW YOUR RESUME. EVERYTHING on it is fair game in an interview.

6) One of the biggest problems I see is candidates that talk about their teamwork or projects as part of a team. You need to focus on your individual contributions. People forget about that sometimes. The company is interviewing *you* the individual, not you, member of "The Team". ]]>
Why The Third Degree? Tue, 10 Nov 2009 06:45:05 -0800 Conquent
From a recruiting perspective I can give you some possible additional insight. In 2005, a large number of companies across the country were hit with a new EEOC directive by the OFCCP (Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.) This initiative hits about 65-80% of companies in the Seattle area. It is any company that has *any* sort of contract *or sub-contract* with the government.

The new guidelines state that said companies must be able to prove from an auditable standpoint, that they are considering each and every qualified applicant for each and every position for which the applicant applies.

On the surface this may not seem to affect the recruiting process, but what has happened is that almost universally companies have decided to drive all applicant tracking to their corporate websites.

One of the stipulations of this initiative is that every candidate must be evaluated using the *exact same set of criteria.* That means that if the candidate passes the first screen (has the hard skills required for the job, including past experience and education), then all candidates must then be further evaluated *exactly the same*. This means that the same questions must be asked (verbally or in writing). In addition, *each and every applicant* must be "dispositioned" with the reason they have been dropped out of consideration at each stage of the hiring process.

These guidelines, at the time they were instituted, more than tripled the amount of work for recruiters on each open position. Add to that the economic impact of the 10% unemployment nationally and the huge number of applicants for every position, and perhaps this can help to illuminate the need for tighter screening across the board.

The financial consequences for *not* following these processes is twofold: loss of contracts and hefty fines for each infringement.

Why Companies Don't Gamble on Job Hoppers Mon, 23 Nov 2009 17:21:12 -0800 Conquent
Now, there is a difference between working a series of temporary jobs to get experience and having a bunch of "permanent" jobs that last 6 months or less. And here is the reason why job-hopping is seen as a negative.

<B>*It costs an organization thousands of dollars to recruit and train a new employee*.</B>

I'm including statistics we used to give a powerpoint presentation a few months ago to our hiring managers. These numbers are based on a per-hire average of a full-time employee (hours for employee are calculated on an a salaried employee making $60K).

Recruiting Resources (people): $628
Sourcing Resources (ads, job boards, career fairs): $125
Candidate Sourcing: $58
Resume Reviewing (hundreds of resumes, man hours involved to review by both recruiting/managers): $632,555
Phone Screens (recruiting and hiring team in terms of man hours): $44,488
Internal Interviews (man hours): $4,449
Realistic Job Preview (evaluating the job, headcount forecasting, writing and editing the job description): $3,941
Screening/assessment costs: $268
Offer preparation/Acceptance Costs: $578
Training New Hire: $3,668
Cost of new hire materials: $1,500
New Hire Salary Expense (paid to learn, no productivity): $1,177
Manager time during ramp-up period (coaching, mentoring): $736

So, as you can see from a purely fiscal standpoint, it is *expensive* to hire a new employee. And if a candidate has a habit of job hopping, why would an organization spend the money and man-hours to take a gamble on someone with a proven history of leaving in less than a year?

There is a difference between being laid off from a position due to downsizing and job hopping. Really, the last 18 months or so won't count against most candidates (here's a hint: put on your resume that you were downsized due to corporate restructuring/office closure.) But if you are in, say, retail, and you keep changing stores every few months, why would anyone believe you capable or interested in holding down a job long-term? Either you chose to leave, or you were terminated. Once or twice is one thing, but a repeated history of it is a huge red flag to employers.

So, if at all possible, you should try to stay in any job at least a year. Twelve months. Moving within an organization is fine, but jumping from employer to employer is going to lose you opportunities if you make it a career lifestyle.

Nursing Graduates - Acute Care Sun, 6 Dec 2009 20:38:58 -0800 Conquent
-ANY direct patient care is valuable on your resumes. Volunteer work, clinicals, internships. All of it is helpful.

-The question of alternate career titles has been bandied around like CNA, Nurse Technician, Technologist, LPN as paying jobs. Is this a viable career move? The short answer is "yes", considering a position that is less money and responsibility but gets you direct patient care experience is an option. It depends on how badly you need to work and where you are looking.

-Traveling nurse positions are picking up and this can give you very valuable experience and a nice nest egg.

-You seriously need to consider relocation, and maybe on your own dime. If you live an area with extremely high unemployment, like MI, you are competing for entry level salaries against seasoned nurses with years of experience. Look at areas where there are large medical centers/teaching hospitals or, alternatively, rural settings where there is less interest in moving as a young professional.

-This isn't for everyone, but seriously consider doing something like the Peace Corps, Doctors Without Borders, or the military (including the Reserves). Not only will you gain extremely valuable experience, but you will open doors you never thought of.

-One thing to keep in mind. If you have your heart set on a hospital career, taking a "short term" stint in a private practice, school or long-term care facility will greatly lessen your chances for attaining that hospital position. These are different skill sets and the further you get from acute care, the more difficult it is to convince a potential hospital/employer that you can transfer those skills.

Remember your resume is your sales tool. The more experience you can put on it that maps to direct patient care, the better your chances of landing an acute care position. ]]>
Laborer? Contractor? Retail Associate? Yes, You *DO* Need A Resume! Fri, 1 Jan 2010 11:15:25 -0800 Conquent
1) It shows that you know how to communicate effectively in English.
2) A resume clearly lays out your skills and employment history for an employer to see.
3) You are presenting a more professional profile to a potential employer
4) Any business involved with the federal, state, county, or city government *requires* a resume to evaluate candidates for positions.
5) A resume is an excellent way to track your employment history for purposes of filling out applications.

Putting together a "blue collar" resume is no different than any other. The same pitfalls should be avoided as you would for a profession such an accountant or a lawyer.

Full contact information (name, phone number/s, email address, city and state of residence; leave your street address off as it could encourage data piracy).

A nice transition to your employment history is a professional summary detailing any licenses you have (by state and license number), specific industry/job skills with the number of years you have been practicing them, and any specialized training (NOT your HS or college education!) you have received.

Then, list out your employers *in reverse chronologic order*.

Company, location (City/State/Province), years of employment, your title.
Brief desription of your main job duties or projects for that employer.

HS/College, course of study, and degree/diploma achieved.

You should not put your references on your resume. You do not need a generic objective, it wastes space. A cover letter telling me you have 15 years as a journeyman carpenter is NOT a resume. It does not need to be one page or shorter, it should generally be no longer than two pages if you have more than 7 years of experience.

Please, please PLEASE do not use a functional resume. It does not give hiring managers and HR professionals the information we need in a way that we can make sense of. And please, do not use vague, trite words and phrases to describe your career. Be precise, targeted and contextual. Do NOT just cut and paste the same job duties under every job heading. You should NOT be doing the same thing for every different employer. If you are, you are not growing as a professional. Most of all, use proper grammar and punctuation with perfect spelling. There is absolutely no excuse for misspelled words on a resume.

John Doe
Everett, WA

Experienced painter - interior, exterior, commercial and residential with over 5 years of professional experience

Light carpentry and finishing projects including flooring
Highest ratings on homeadvisor and Angie's List
WA State License 43-25299, bonded/insured
Specialize in custom built-ins
All equipment provided, valid WA state DL

All Pro Painters - Snohomish and N. King County
Residential Painter 2015-Present
-Drywall, trim interior
-Siding, trim, gutters, windows
-Recognized in 2017 and 2019 as employee of the year

Luxury Marine Finishers - Seattle (South Lake Union)
Marine Paint Expert 2012-2015
-Detail interior and exterior yachts
-Fiberglass, wood surfaces
-Detailed wood finishing

Shoreline High School, Shoreline WA
Diploma, 2012

Ways For Recruiters To Find You Sat, 6 Feb 2010 11:50:10 -0800 Conquent
"Them" is candidates. She wasn't referring to job boards like Monster, but more about networking sites such as Plaxo, LinkedIn, or other online places. For example, if anyone runs a search on my name, this blog is one of the top searches that comes up. Anyone can leave me a message that I get in my email. My "footprint" is everywhere.

I've advised any number of people to write a professional or special interest blog. It does a number of things. It establishes *your* internet identity. It also allows you to expound on current subjects in your profession or topics of interest, which leads you to become a subject matter expert and "findable" when a recruiter runs a search on the subject.

Make sure you have a bio page on your blog. It doesn't have to be a full on resume, but a list of the sorts of professional positions you have had and the companies you have worked at. This helps the recruiter verify that it, indeed, you that they are looking for.

Do you have a Facebook page? If you don't, you are seriously missing out on the opportunities recruiters use to reach out to potential candidates. Here's a hint: anyone can send you a message on FB, and if you come up in a search for a specific skill set, or perhaps you have an old resume in a database with a defunct email address or an old phone number then FB may be the best/easiest way to get hold of you.

So, if you want to found, make yourself visible to the people you want to find you. ]]>
The Currency of Business Favors And The Job Seeker Fri, 12 Feb 2010 14:26:31 -0800 Conquent
He did contact me and we arranged to meet at the same coffee shop on a Sunday afternoon. We confirmed, I sent him a photo, and an email earlier in the day with my attire so he could find me. I got there about 10 minutes early. And waited. And waited. Finally, after 30 minutes I left.

I sent him an email, telling him I had waited for 30 minutes and wishing him the best with his job hunt. He replied, saying he was sorry that he couldn't "make it". He wanted to reschedule.

I politely informed him that I generally charge money to meet with people to discuss career and resume matters, and that I had agreed to meet with him gratis as a favor. I referred him to a friend of mine that is an Employment Specialist at Worksource (WA state's unemployment office) with her contact info and that he could get go with no appointment, and at no charge.

My point is, the message he portrayed was that he doesn't care how he is perceived professionally; he doesn't take his job hunt seriously; he has no understanding of the currency of business "favors". Based on his behavior, I would assume that he is someone that will job hop and possibly call in sick excessively. This goes back to personal employment branding.

Make sure that when you are managing your job search you are treating potential contacts as the golden resources that they are. Use your currency wisely and well. ]]>
Leveraging LinkedIn For The Job Seeker Wed, 14 Apr 2010 13:21:49 -0800 Conquent
1) Just like Monster, Dice, CareerBuilder, and corporate candidate databases, LinkedIn allows keyword searching and matching. So it's vital that you take advantage of this feature. (See my previous entry on effective keyword usage on your resume.) Here are the main fields that recruiters use in conjunction together:
-Keywords relating to functional skills (ie software coding languages/platforms, terms like GAAP or reconcilation for accounting, A/B testing or campaign for marketing, wireframe or usability for UX, roadmap for PM, calendar for administrative)

2) Profile as Resume: If you look on your profile page over to the right, there is a small icon for the Adobe PDF next to the printer. This handy dandy little widget converts a LinkedIn profile to a PDF document that looks remarkably like a...resume! I remember how enthusiastic I was when this was added, because it meant I could save the profile as a PDF to share with my hiring managers. SO, what does this mean? *treat your LinkedIn profile like a resume.* Follow the same rules of thumb you would with composing your resume. Don't just list your company, title and dates of employment. Give some detail as to *what you do/did.* Help us find you, and make yourself appealing. You can also upload your resume TO your LI profile.

3) Websites: "My company", or "My blog". I've often managed to contact people from their "website" links. Sometimes it is a second business, or perhaps it's a link to your blog with a "contact me" section. Remember, if someone isn't in your first degree contacts, they cannot contact you unless you are a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) or enable open communication except if you are in ...

4) Groups: when you join various "groups" on LinkedIn, especially professional or special interest groups, you can choose to let other members of the group contact you. For example, I belong to several groups such as Linked: Seattle and the Seattle Job Social and Amazon Alumni, where I can post jobs and connect up with other people. On top of that, each group has a "jobs" tab where recruiters or hiring managers can post their jobs. (It costs $195 to post a single job for 30 days in the actual "jobs" section of LinkedIn. The "jobs" tabs are a much more cost-effective and generate more interest.) Treat the groups as you would any other professional organization: as a great way to connect with other professionals and like-minded individuals. Join in discussions, make yourself a known quantity. Give people a reason to *want to get to know you* as a resource, and possibly even for generating some business or leads in your field.

5) Status: on your Profile page, you can update your status, and also share out that information as a tweet on your twitter account. This is a great tool because these updates come as email network updates to important individuals in your network, like former colleagues, recruiters, industry professionals, etc., and it integrates Twitter with your LI account. Remember: Twitter is an amazing platform for gathering information, disseminating *your* expertise and branding yourself. Having it integrated with LI is a brilliant move. Don't just keep a "Steve Smith is seeking new opportunities" or "Jean Doe is available to help you with your staffing needs." Update your profile often; share interesting links to articles or updates to your blog (with the URL of course) about your industry. Keep it fresh and interesting.

6) Recommendations: I have heard of companies in Seattle that don't ask for references any more. They only use LI recommendations. What does this tell you? That those recommendations are important. And that it is vital to get them *before you think you might need them.* Who should they be from? Managers, peers, clients. People that can attest to your work. The same people that you would use as references when asked for them. These days, many companies have stringent policies about not giving any sort of post-layoff references, so you should start gathering them well before you need them. In addition to your own references, if you get your network email updates and see someone you know is gathering references, it might be a clue that s/he is getting ready to start looking for a new job. Make sure that whomever you are asking/giving for references is someone with whom you have a solid working relationship. I recently was asked for a recommendation for someone that I have known for over a decade, but only socially. I told her I was not comfortable commenting on her work, as I've never worked with her (she also lives on the other side of the country and isn't in recruiting.)

7) Put your LinkedIn profile URL on your resume and your business cards. Recruiters check LI profiles. Make sure your experience on your profile *matches* your resume. At this month's Seattle Job Social, I was gratified to see very few resumes and lots of folks handing me business cards with their LI url's on them.

8) Please don't have multiple LinkedIn profiles and accounts. I know one recruiter I was looking up that had four profiles all under different email addresses. If I have to look *that hard* to find you I'm going to lose interest.

9) Speaking of email : Use *all your email addresses* to accept LI invitations. If you are actively seeking work, put your email address in your *profile* somewhere so that I can contact you easily. Create a job seeking email address if you don't want to share your contact information with the world.

10) Link to Recruiters. This should be a very basic no-brainer. Even if recruiters are out of work themselves, they still know other recruiters that have job openings.

11) Be reciprocal. Don't just ask and ask for people to forward *your* requests. Help others. Pay it forward. This is about building communities and networks.

12) Check out other people's profiles in your field. See what they are doing, what their updates are, what sort of articles they are reading. This is a way to learn about your own industry. See what groups they belong to and join them. If they list external blogs, go read it and comment. It helps build your credibility and gives you visibility.

LinkedIn is a valuable, robust community filled with interesting people and potential business contacts. If you are a job seeker, make yourself attractive to potential employers, and network your way into an excellent job.

A Rose Is A Rose...Or Is It? Tue, 20 Apr 2010 12:24:48 -0800 Conquent
Now, by having that title, as a recruiter I will do one of two things: pass the resume on by, or (depending on the role I am trying to fill) read it and then pass it over. Why do both of these scenarios end with me passing by?

A "Director" is the lowest rung on the executive ladder for most organizations. Most Directors have P & L responsibility combined with an organization that reports into them in a managerial heirarchy. It denotes significant organizational responsibility and a pretty hefty compensation package.

If I was looking at my friend's resume for an individual contributor role (IC), even if it was doing exactly what she has been doing, I would pass over her experience because as a Director, I won't have managerial responsibilities, staff, and the commensurate compensation to accompany the title. If I *was* looking at her resume for a Director Role and saw she was actually an IC in a small organization, I would not see the depth of experience and responsibility I am searching for. In short, she was titling herself out of a job.

When I was working at Microsoft and looking for Senior Management candidates, it was understood that a Director at MSFT would often be a VP or General Manager at a smaller company. At a smaller company, titles are often "inflated" by virtue of the size of the organization. If you are the CFO or Controller at a 10 person company, that may mean that you are responsible for all the financial functions; AP/AR, collections, general ledger as well as managing the operations budget for the organization. But that doesn't mean you, as a candidate, are a good fit for a Senior Financial Manager at a larger company.

The same is also true in reverse. One of the most prevalent questions I hear these days is from senior candidates that are "overqualified" for IC roles. A VP of HR at a 300 person company in a depressed area like, say, Cleveland or Detroit, has a hard time finding a job with the other 500 HR generalists on the market. They *have* the functional skill set to do a generalist job, but because of their experience they are being overlooked for those roles. It is frustrating for the candidate because they need to work. But there are several reasons from a recruiting standpoint that makes these candidates less attractive. The first is quite simply economic; senior candidates make a lot more money than an IC. Although these candidates are willing to take the "going rate" for an IC, it's a major gamble for any organization that is tight on money. Then there is the fear that bringing in a senior candidate will just be a stop-gap measure for them until the market turns around. In other words, they'll leave as soon as the going gets better and they can find another job. It is also a more subtle concern that a senior candidate will come in and try to change the established "order" or structure of things.

Let's face it; it is a buyer's market, and companies are the buyers. So what can you do, as a senior candidate, to make yourself more "sellable"? First, take your experience to the lowest common denominator. This does, admittedly, border on dumbing down your resume, but you *must* make yourself attractive to a potential employer. Carefully look at the job description and then pull out the requirements. Go through your employment history of the last 7-10 years, and tailor your resume to match *those requirements*. Period. Write your summary to address exactly the requirements for the organization, and get rid of extraneous accomplishments. If you were a manager, become an XYZ professional. For our CFO and VP of HR, they would become Staff Accountant and Sr. HR Generalist, respectively. Or a member of the Accounting team or the Human Resources Staff.

Make sure that your title isn't putting you out of the running for positions that you are either over- or under- qualified for. These days, for every job opening I have, I am getting a very high number of applicants, and of those, a very high percentage are going to be *exactly* what I am looking for, so I don't need to stretch to find a "relative" fit. On top of that, many organizations are required to be compliant with certain federal guidelines that state that an organization must consider *every qualified applicant.* And *only* qualified candidates. The qualifications have set parameters, and to even be considered you need to fall into those parameters (which is often defined by a set keyword search).

Remember, your resume is a tool to get you in the door. You may need several versions of it to get your foot over the threshhold.
Keeping It Real(istic) Thu, 22 Apr 2010 14:14:55 -0800 Conquent
The first thing he wanted to know, of course, was what kinds of jobs I might be able to find for him. So I told him, based on his skills and experience, that I would probably be able to find him a data analyst-type position. Then he proceeded to tell me that he wants to go into Business Intelligence, and would I be able to call him if/when I got a BI role? He had been "reading up on it" and was now ready to pursue roles in the BI field.

(Let's call this candidate George. ) I explained to George that we represent senior candidates, meaning that our clients expect us to present them with professionals that have the requisite skills necessary to peform the work they are hired for, with no discernable ramp time on basic skill sets. I then further went on to let him know that right now, in today's economy, for every job I have posted, I get bombarded with resumes, and most of the time, there are at least a few candidates that are *dead on* matches for the roles I have.

George asked me what suggestion I had for him to get into the BI field. I suggested that he set up shop as an independent consultant for small businesses and get the experience that way.

He then asked me what version of his resume I had (apparently he numbers them). I told him honestly I had just taken the content out of the document, pasted it into my calendar to call him then deleted the original. I then politely reminded him he could check his sent mail. (v86, apparently.) He tried to convince me that his resume portrayed the skills I need for senior Analyst roles.

My response? Not for the positions I have. I counseled him to tailor his resume to whatever job he was applying for before submitting. He then told me that the local Worksource (WA state unemployment) office had told him that he should always have a couple of resumes that "brand him" and then look for the jobs that fit his brand.

So, this information frustrates me. I have had many candidates tell me some of the strategies they are getting from career counselors and placement coaches, and this is *exactly contrary* to what candidates need to be doing. So I reached out to a good friend that I used to recruit with, who is now an employment counselor at Worksource (and whom I trust because she WAS a recruiter.) I told her what George had said. She looked up his record and said that he has attended "advanced" training sessions that are for C-level candidates and that yes, this is part of the information they receive. But for most people they advise them to tailor their resumes as closely to a job description as possible (thank heavens.)

A couple of weeks I was introduced to someone that is open to finding a new job. She sent me a resume, and we happened to have a position she might be a fit for. Because we were connected socially, she started to talk about some of the career goals she is thinking of pursuing, and one of them is to get into accounting. From IT. WHOA. I told her that in this economy, I couldn't counsel *anyone* to try making a radical shift like that. Going back to school to get a CPA, sure. I relayed the same candidate job info I had for George, and it was a major wake-up call for her.

My point is, candidates need to be *realistic* these days. And in George's case, he needs to *listen* better to what the professionals are telling him, not have selective hearing. I know it's tough out there. Things are starting to get better, but unless you are ready and able to branch out on your own into a new field and don't need a steady paycheck or benefits, this is *not* the time to try and make other people see your fit into a mold *you just don't*. All it does is brand you as a trouble candidate that doesn't have a grasp on what is really going on in the workforce.

New Grads - That Time Again Mon, 26 Apr 2010 18:41:59 -0800 Conquent
I have been helping local collegiates with their resumes lately. One of the first things I ask them (after "what is your major") is "what would you like to do?"

There are some interesting answers. Believe it or not, I prefer to hear "I'm not quite sure" rather than "I'm going to get a job in event management and plan concerts for indie bands around the country."

I wholeheartedly believe in goals and dreams. But I also believe in having a reality check. Any graduating senior with a BA in Marketing or Business who thinks they are going to walk into an event management job planning indie concerts had better have some serious connections that she has already vetted if she is going to make a statement like that.

OK. You've been hearing about how bad the economy is from your parents. But that's for the older generation that is more than halfway to retirement, right?

Wrong. If you can afford to start your own company, or you have some major ins to the industry jobs you want (like your Uncle Bob's best friend manages an up and coming band and is looking for an assistant) then you can decide what you want to do. If you are an honors student at an Ivy League University, you probably already have a few job offers. But for the majority of graduating seniors, it's a tough economy out there.

You need to have a realistic understanding of how the professional world works. That means you need to be cultivating relationships with people in decision-making roles; contacting older friends that graduated two years ago in your field that can give you an employee referral (assuming they are employed); you need to have your LinkedIn profile updated; ask your parents and friends of the family for leads; contact alumnae from your fraternity/sorority; join the University Facebook alumni page and start meeting older graduates that are employed that you can network with; email your manager from your internship from last year expressing interest in any openings, reminding him of what an excellent job you did; go to volunteer functions and meet community leaders *and getting their email addresses.* (Not their phone numbers. They want emailed resumes, not a call asking for time to chat.) Join professional organizations and Special Interest Groups.

The theme here is that you need to do the same thing your parents are doing: networking. Putting your resume up on Monster, going to school career fairs and handing out your resume and adding your resume to the university career center are *not enough*. You need to learn to tailor your resume for jobs, write a targeted document and learn how to research people like hiring managers and recruiters at companies you are interested in working for.

And you may need to truly consider relocating. If you grew up in Las Vegas, unless you want to be a Blackjack Dealer, a dancer or a bartender, chances are you need to move somewhere else. Read housing and job market articles. Know which cities are growing, what industries have experienced growth and then follow them.

There are always job out there. There are options. But you need to learn and take suggestions offered to you to maximize your opportunities. Good luck. Leave me comments if you have specific questions. ]]>
Why Privacy Is Becoming Obsolete Sat, 1 May 2010 10:01:33 -0800 Conquent
I was listening to my favorite morning radio show, and the DJ and company were talking about it. Now, the Bob Rivers Show has about 5-6 people every morning. Bob, Spike, Joe and Maura are probably all between 40-50. I'm guessing Pedro is in his mid-late 30's and Aric is the youngest on the team. They asked Aric, "do you care about the privacy settings?" His response was "not really."

So this is why I believe privacy is going to become less and less of an opt IN feature in the next few years. I've been studying the Millenials (GenY) from a recruiting/HR viewpoint. We, GenX; the Jones Generation and the Baby Boomers have watched as technology has entered the daily life of the general population over the last twenty years. But let us consider: GenY grew up with computers and video games and cell phones. They don't remember a time before all these wired devices kept them connected to their social peers. The point is, *they don't see a need for privacy.*

As a generation they have built their world electronically. They *like* having things turned on and "fed" to them. They don't *care* about predictive modeling algorithms like Pandora and Amazon recommendations. It means they don't have to put through effort to get things. Read an email? No thanks, send me a text. Short, sweet, and then onto the next thing. They are uber-multitaskers. Is that a good thing? The jury is still out on that, but for now it doesn't really matter. Companies are gearing everything from their marketing and sales campaigns to their job postings to *this* generation, not those of us that already have our spending and activity patterns pretty well set. They are trying to capture market share with a generation that has a very short attention span and wants their information in short bursts, and pushed *to* them rather than then needing to go out and *look* for it.

So those of us that are older and concerned about privacy and the electronic veil thinning more every day had better get ready for it to become even thinner. And make our peace with it or pull over on the information highway. ]]>
The *Long Distance* Commuter Thu, 6 May 2010 16:52:42 -0800 Conquent
I've mentioned before how it may be necessary to consider relocation to find a job in another city due to the economic depression. And, as a recruiter, I'm totally aware of how often it is not an option to move a family or impossible to sell a house in these tough economic times. It is also a sad fact that many companies don't have any sort of relocation budget for assistance.

So what does this mean to you, the job seeker, that is A) willing to relocate or commute B) able to cover the cost of said move?

It means that you have a couple of options. The most important thing is that a recruiter considers you a viable candidate that is available for interviews and to start work in a reasonable (2 weeks usually) amount of time. If you live in, say, Detroit and are looking in Chicago, it's not a big stretch to drive there. But what if you live in Florida and are looking at jobs in Chicago or Seattle or Boston? You are willing to pay for your own ticket to interview and your own relocation expenses, but how do you indicate that to a potential employer?

First of all, do you know anyone in those cities you are targeting that you can "borrow" their local address? (Especially if you can stay with them short-term if you get a job before you have a place to live). If so, just put their address on your resume. Another similar option is to rent a PMB (Personal Mail Box). This is not a PO box, but is similar in that it is a box at someplace like a Mailboxes, Etc. where you have a street address and a box number.

Alternatively, when you are sending/posting your resume, indicate at the top that you are able and willing to relocate yourself at your own expense. Example:

John Doe
123 Main Street
Anytown US 00011

*I am available to relocate at my own expense with two week's notice upon offer.*

It can be tough to leave your family and home to take a job several hundred or thousands of miles away. But it is even more difficult to be unable to pay your bills and feed your children. We do what we must in these tough times. ]]>
Diversify Your Professional Portfolio Wed, 12 May 2010 10:15:53 -0800 Conquent

I know another tech professional who lives in the Seattle area and despises Microsoft technologies. He refuses to expand his skill set, on principle. Not surprisingly, he always finds himself looking for work. His skill set is so narrow that he only can find contracts for short amounts of time. It's a shame he is letting himself be branded as a poor candidate because he refuses to learn the local business tools. Microsoft is the prevalent technology in this area. I mean, c'mon, the company employs over 20K people at any given time so the skill sets have more than partially influenced business decisions in Seattle.

Last night I was over at a friend's house, who recently was laid off. (As an aside, her husband works at MSFT ;). We were talking about the company, and they sell software to a specific compliance industry. The company has started downsizing to streamline costs. Apparently they offer two very similar software packages aimed at smaller businesses, and the head of the department insists that they will continue to offer these to separate products. I looked at her and we both agreed that it's just a matter of time before the products are combined or maybe even eliminated. He obviously is in denial that his group, maybe even his position, are in jeopardy.

It's crucial in this economic climate to make sure you are as employable as possible. This means diversification of your skills, being honest with yourself about your capabilities and your situation if you are employed. This doesn't mean turning around and going off to try a new industry/career you are unprepared for. It means leveraging and increasing the skills you *have*. The biggest complaint from hiring managers and HR professionals in response to older employees is their unwillingness to learn and grow. They get to a point in their career where they think it's time to just coast through, or rest on their laurels, so to speak. One of our candidates at work has a very diverse resume; we hired her because she is someone we can use on a variety of positions, doing different things, fulfilling a broad spectrum of project needs. She has consciously made choices to learn and grow to make herself as attractive as possible to potential employers and her efforts have paid off.

A Bio is *Not* a Resume Thu, 13 May 2010 17:50:46 -0800 Conquent
Since I am a recruiter at a consulting company, I have seen and formatted such resumes. But I recently saw one on a major job board, and the message it sent me was that the person seeking a new job didn't know how to write a resume for herself and really didn't even try.

While I was at the University of Washington, it amazed me how many people would apply for a job writing down a brief professional history and ignoring the request for a proper resume.

This gives the same impression as a functional resume in a non-portfolio based industry: you don't have the skills we are looking for; you are trying to hide something; you cannot follow basic instructions on filling out an online job application. (And of course you don't know how to write a resume.)

So here, again, is what happens. By doing any of the above, you are not giving a recruiter the information they have asked for in a format that is *standard* right now, that hiring managers want to see.

1) Your most recent job including company, location, title, dates of employment, and industry (if not immediately discernible. Use a one-sentence marketing blurb from the employer's website or marketing materials if you don't know how to craft this.)

2) A detailed account of what you did for the employer highlighting major accomplishments.

3) The next most recent job, etc. on the resume going back *no more than 7-10 years*.

4) Education: this includes degrees/diplomas and *applicable* training or certification. For example, being First Aid Certified is not applicable outside the medical industry or positions such as child care.

5) Affiliations such as volunteer organizations, *leaving out things such as religious or political references*.

A bio (short for "biography") is something that you prepare that gives a broad statement reflecting your entire career, with little or no mention of specific projects. Bios are used for content such as corporate "about us" sections or prospectuses, speaking engagements, press releases, articles (written, quoted in, or interviews). A bio doesn't usually even give enough information to decide if someone is even a fit. It is not an appropriate substitute for a full resume or a CV.

Like every industry, recruiting goes through trends; the current "style" is dictated by technology and government standards. Over time, no doubt it will change. But for now, following "fashion" is a better policy and in your own best interests. ]]>
You Never Call, You Never Write...Why You May Not Be Hearing Back Fri, 14 May 2010 11:33:01 -0800 Conquent
I love forging relationships with my candidates. It's usually the best part of my job. I'm a big candidate advocate. But what candidates need to remember is that my *primary* client in the recruiting relationship is the hiring manager. That could be someone in my company, it could be a manager at a client. My paycheck depends on keeping *them* happy. Just as most employees seem to misunderstand the role of the HR Generalist, which is to make sure the *company* is safe legally (and representing the best interests of the company, not the employee), candidates need to understand my priorities as a recruiter.

When you, as a candidate, don't hear from me for a long time, don't assume that I am ignoring you. I have done as much as I can to get you noticed. Please be aware that often it is the *hiring manager* that is the bottleneck. It isn't unusual for Hiring Managers to take weeks to get back to a recruiter (either internal or agency/external) on the outcome of a resume or even interviews.

There can be any number of reasons for this; keep in mind that the reason a position is *open* is because they are understaffed, which means that everyone is picking up the extra load until it can be filled. It's a catch-22 situation. But it's hellacious sometimes to get interviews scheduled when everyone is already overextended.

Also consider that with the market as flooded as it is, managers are looking at many many MANY more resumes for each position than in pre-recession years. That means they are considering, screening, and interviewing more candidates than ever for *one* position. Recruiters narrow down the field for them by significant amounts, but where maybe before they had 3 or 4 qualified candidates, now maybe it's 8 or 10.

You are a second tier candidate. They like you, but you don't hit *all* their quals, so that means they are keeping you in reserve until their first-string choices are contacted and interviewed.

Competition in general. If you are going through an agency, depending on how many other agencies have submitted you, they have no idea what is going on if the HM doesn't communicate with them.

The position is in jeopardy of going away. It is on hold. If an agency is representing you, they probably won't even know about it until the position disappears from their recruiting dashboard.

Recruiting is very much a Project Management role, with each open position being a set deliverable. If I have twelve open requisitions to work on, and I have already submitted four qualified candidates on number 5, then my priority shifts to number 8 because the HM has pulled the trigger and asked me to start scheduling the interviews for her top four candidates. So that week, I put 5 on a back-burner to concentrate on 8. Recruiters multi-task weekly, daily and even hourly. It is rare for us to have "down time" for any significant amount. And also it might help candidates to know that Recruiters have been *hard hit* in this economy in terms of layoffs and downsizing. Most recruiters have been doing double or triple duty in their organizations after losing team members. The ramifications of this are not just more jobs to fill, but also forming new relationships with our hiring managers which takes time.

Feel free to contact us; weekly if you have heard from us and we have indicated that we are setting some sort of schedule up. We generally prefer email as it allows us time to keep focused. And, often times we are on the phone with other candidates many hours of the day, so you may get voicemail anyway.

And finally, this may seem to be humor, but I am quite serious: a call can tell you if the recruiter is even still with the company, and if not you need to get hold of the recruiter that is taking over those requisitions. S/he may have no idea who you are, so introduce yourself and send any email correspondence you have to re-establish your candidacy. ]]>
Fake It 'Til You Make It Wed, 2 Jun 2010 17:47:00 -0800 Conquent
One of my friends has been hard hit by the economy. She had her car repossessed yesterday. But she is not letting anyone outside of her very close intimate circle know how far down the well she has fallen; I'm one of three people who know how bad her financial straits are. She is talking to recruiters, pursuing as many job avenues as possible, and networking as much as she can to get her head above water. From the outside looking in, she's surviving.

On the flip side I received a desperate plea for help from someone who really needs a job. His contact with me reflected it and I was surprised by how much actual work experience he had when I saw his resume because I expected him to be a fairly junior candidate, but he wasn't.

By "Fake it" I don't mean lie on your resume or misrepresent your skills. I'm talking about your professional image. With all the despair and desperation out in the world, it's vital to remain as polished and professional in your interactions in the job market; whether you are sending an email, going to a networking function, or having a phone screen or interview, you want to give your audience, whomever they may be, a first-rate impression.

So, absolutely reach out to your network for help and support. That is what they are there for. But don't make the mistake of trying to ask your casually professional contacts to be your anchor and your life jacket. Because I guarantee they have their *own* personal network to help keep afloat.

Announcement: Seattle Resume Workshop Mon, 7 Jun 2010 12:29:52 -0800 Conquent
Your resume is your marketing and sales tool as a candidate. Conquent HR is pleased to announce that we are now accepting reservations for our resume workshops. In this 90 minute training you will learn how to write a resume that will get noticed by hiring managers and recruiters.

Covered Topics include:

* How to effectively use keywords so that your resume will always come up in keyword searches
* The way to tailor your resume and cover letter based on a job description
* Formats that work best for email, databases, and in
* person interviews
* What should
* and shouldn't
* be on a resume
* How recruiters evaluate resumes and what hiring managers are looking for
* The difference between a competency and soft skill
* How long your resume should be
* What to do with references
* The most important pieces of information that should be part of your resume
* What, when, and how to use the proper format for your industry

Classes are limited to 35 participants to allow for interactive interchange between the instructor and students. Our next class is June 23rd at 7 PM. The cost is $65.

Please visit our web page to register. ]]>
Do Professional Certifications Really Help Me? Tue, 8 Jun 2010 15:54:13 -0800 Conquent
It's a common question: will getting specific training to get a set of letters after your name make a difference in the job market? In Seattle, this question is especially relevant in the tech market. With Microsoft being one of the largest area employers, having MCxx (Microsoft Certified...take your pick) after your name is de rigueur and somewhat expected. A lot of out of work professionals have taken advantage of UI-funded programs such as getting their PMP (Project Management) as well, and want to know: is the time, money, and effort worth it?

As with most questions, this isn't a simple "one answer fits all". It really depends on the industry, job title, and quite honestly the organization. I'm seeing more and more job descriptions wanting professional certifications on them. My professional opinion is that this is a way for hiring managers and recruiters to help narrow the pool down. For a lot of professionals, getting those letters after their name is just a validation of the experience they've already accrued over their careers. This subject falls under the question of education for me: how will it impact your chances in the workplace? Will it get you more money?

But maybe more importantly in this tough economy, getting a certification while you are unemployed shows that you, as a professional, have been taking time to do *something* during your downtime to improve your employability and professional profile. For this reason alone, if you can afford it, getting industry certifications are definitely worth considering.

But before you run out to get your Six Sigma green belt, make sure you thoroughly investigate what your industry is looking for. Read job postings, blogs from professionals in your industry, articles etc. to determine if it will make a difference. Going out and getting letters after your name *could* backfire on you if nobody in your industry wants them. It could give the impression that you are getting ready to change industries or even that you aren't current with your profession. As much as I hate to say it, professional impressions count even more now than they did two years ago. Make sure the impression you are giving is concurrent with what is happening in your profession. ]]>
Is Your "Resume" Website Recruiter-friendly? Fri, 18 Jun 2010 14:03:17 -0800 Conquent
I recently had someone ask me for my opinions on his consulting site. My suggestion was to condense things and not try to make himself an expert in everything related to his industry (and to lose the personal interest section). If you add too much detail to your site, you dilute your brand and potential clients come away with an impression of "jack of all trades, master of none". Pick no more than three related skills to highlight on your website.

So earlier, one of my friends sent me a link to this site, which in turn points to *another* portfolio site as a "perfect" example of what your online resume (his word) should look like.

Site one:
<A href= target=_blank></A>

The "perfect" resume site:
<A href= target=_blank></A>

So, here are my comments to my friend:

"Never ever ever put pictures on your resume. It is considered a way to induce discrimination in HR/Recruiting types and they tend to ignore resumes with photos, even if they are online.

If you go to his actual "resume" link it is just a list of skills, and nowhere is his actual employment history listed in reverse chronologic format."

So here is the thing: as a portfolio site to demonstrate his skills for prospective clients, I have no issue with it. But if he is using this site as his "resume" for employers vs. clients, it has issues. Photos on a resume are bad because HR has a duty to protect the employer from legal action, and it is not unusual for someone who doesn't get a job to use tactics to try and file a discrimination lawsuit. So the answer for HR/Recruiting is to not consider resumes or CV's with pictures on them, in North America.

It's very important to remember that when you are job seeking that you try and put yourself in the mindset the recruiter and hiring manager are in. In this very tight competitive environment, you are trying to capture the attention of the decision makers. While it may seem creative to go outside the "established" box, I'd say that more often than not it can backfire on you. The time to prove your individuality and creativity is in the interview, when you have already proven yourself good "on paper".

Employment Agency Terminology Thu, 24 Jun 2010 15:49:50 -0800 Conquent
NDA, or Non-Disclosure Agreement
This is a document full of what seems to be a bunch of legalese jargon about Proprietary Information, Intellectual Property, etc. Basically, an NDA is an agreement that covers both the agency and their client from having information about business practices, products, services (etc.) leaked to competitors or the press. The gist of this sort of form says that you agree not to share any information you learn about either the employer (agency) or it's client/s with anyone outside the process established to learn about the job. I do not know why anyone would have a problem signing an NDA, unless they are confusing it with a Non-compete. I have had candidates refuse to sign an NDA, and I cannot work with them.

Right To Represent
It's not uncommon for several agencies or consulting firms to have access to submitting candidates for the same position. A few companies will have "exclusive" contracts with an agency for one or more positions, but it is much more likely that they will be competing against other agencies. A Right To Represent (RTR) is permission you give an agency to represent *you* exclusively for any job. What this means is that you need to keep track of which agency is submitting you for what job/s.

Non-Compete (clause or document)
The Non-Compete clause or document in any offer letter is a point of contention for a lot candidates. Basically, this states that you will not go to a competitor (or sometimes the client) in specific circumstances. This sort of terminology is especially stringent in sales jobs, where a company is trying to make sure that you don't take clients with you when you go. But in markets such as Seattle, where competing organizations are trying to place candidates in the same types of jobs, it's an effort to keep them from just switching agencies for contracts.

(The Non-Compete issue is hotly contested, has so much complexity and wild variance to it and since I am not an attorney, I am not going to answer any questions about specific examples; if you have an issue or question, consult an employment attorney.)

A lot of candidates get upset when they sign a Right To Represent for one or two specific positions, then they find out a recruiter has submitted them to many without ever contacting the candidate with a job description or to ask permission to be submitted. This is a bad business practice, but unfortunately in this tough market, agencies are trying to get candidates in front of hiring managers to close business.

What can you do to avoid this? Make sure you get *in writing* an agreement from a particular recruiter/agency that they will not submit you to a job without your explicit permission. It is also is perfectly acceptable and advisable to tell them what other jobs you are currently being considered for. To be the most efficient in this process, you will need the name of the client company; the job title; the job number if you have it. You don't need to give them more information than that, but it will help you to keep confusion down to a minimum. If you have applied to a job yourself, also provide that information. The agencies aren't being intrusive, they just don't want to make the effort to represent you to a client when it's already been done.

Finally, if you have questions about terminology on a specific form you are asked to sign, make sure to discuss them with the recruiter. They should be intimately familiar with any forms you are asked to sign, and if they don't they will know who to ask.

Professional Communities...Where The Big Kids Play Fri, 2 Jul 2010 11:31:24 -0800 Conquent
Here's something that seems to be escaping a lot of job seekers in the whole "networking" frenzy. Networking isn't just about hitting your contacts. It's about going and finding out where the people *you want to join* are hanging out. This translates to professional communities. Alumni Groups, Industry Associations, LinkedIn Groups, Facebook Fan Pages, Conference Speakers/Attendees, etc.

You are trying to get in front of decision makers and industry leaders that may have people to refer you to. Also SME's (subject matter experts) in their field or industry. If you don't know where to look, take a hint from recruiters, marketing and sales: GOOGLE. Run a simple search to find those associations and groups.

Yesterday someone in one of my technical communities posted a request for local schools with Electronic Health Records programs. I sent her the preferred certification for this industry and a link to the overarching professional association (with a list of schools/programs that offer the right curriculum for this sort of certification.) I knew there was a certification because I had a job requiring it last year when I was recruiting in healthcare. But honestly, I didn't remember the actual acronym. So I did a quick Google search, found the term, and then the organization. It took me about 45 seconds.

The point is we all need to be proactive. I had a question about training materials, so I posted it to my HR community (which is separate than recruiting, by the way.) I had a detailed response within 5 minutes. So go find out where your industry (or targeted industry) gurus hang out. Read their blogs and community postings. Follow Twitter folks, read articles and info posted. And then, start responding to those online resources in the form of comments or feedback. Get *your* name out there so people recognize you. I started this a couple of years ago, and now I've got a weekly newspaper column and am called on to speak and give seminars and advice to professional groups. It's about recognition and self-promotion. And guess what? Only you are interested in doing it. ]]>
Converting Volunteer Experiences On Your Resume Tue, 6 Jul 2010 12:18:24 -0800 Conquent
My role in our group is very similar to my role in my professional life: I help newcomers to our organization transition to activities and special interest groups and provide them a resource for guidance (in the HR world it is called recruiting and on-boarding). Luckily, I don't have any problem portraying that role. Like most any other organization, we have a president, vice-president, treasurer, and secretary. Due to the type of education we provide, a very large number of people help plan educational and entertainment events on both small and very large (in excess of several thousands) scales. People are recognized with prestigious awards for the talents and their service to the organization as a whole.

When you are trying to translate your volunteer experience to professional parlance, the first thing to do is look at the organization as a whole. What industry "niche" would it occupy? Think education, health care, IT, finance, etc. Once you have determined the industry, try looking at similar private entities. Use the filter feature by industry on Monster or CareerBuilder and type in a keyword or two associated with your position. For example, if you were the treasurer for your church board, look up other non-profit entities such as the Red Cross and then type in "budget" as a key word. See what comes up, and decide if the verbiage in the job description can be used to help build a framework for you to build a description for yourself.

The rules for converting your volunteer experience to "corporate speak" are no different. Let's take the treasurer example. How much money did you handle? Did you track expenditures and payments? Was there an increase in the positive balance during your tenure? Did you track capital expenditures, or perhaps there was a fund-raising drive while you were on the board. All of these can be important points to highlight on your resume.

Let's say you provide professional services and have chosen to do some pro-bono work. If this is the case, treat it as you would any other client project. If at all possible, it is always advisable to do volunteer work that is in line with your professional talents.

Volunteering during a tough economy is a very viable way to improve your existing professional skills as well as build new ones. Just remember that they *are* professional skills that can help you transition smoothly.

Do You Give TMI Regarding Your Activities On Your Resume? Fri, 9 Jul 2010 16:51:09 -0800 Conquent
Generally, any organized team sport is a great item to include, either as a player or as a coach. Participating in organized sports shows a manager that you pursue a healthy work/life balance; that you are used to working in a team environment; it also shows a bit of a competitive streak, which speaks to motivation and pursuit of excellence. Singular sports such as golf, skiing, or activities such as martial arts still indicate an understanding of competition but even more so discipline and self-motivation. It is the same with any sort of artistic pursuit (musical instrument or choral interests; dance or theater; painting, sculpture etc.) Reading, writing, and travel are frequently used as "interests". These are generally positive subjects (unless for some reason you list that you are something like a best-selling erotica author). Reading and writing intimate good communication skills, and travel shows a sense of adventure and potentially an exposure to different cultures. Some activities bear careful consideration. For example, what happens if you list hunting or fishing on your resume and the hiring manager is a member of PETA? Or you add wine tasting to your list of interests and a hiring manager grew up the child of an alcoholic family?

Most people automatically assume that all volunteer experience should be on a resume. However, it is important to consider what message your associations sends. Usually any non-profit or social support group that isn't religious in nature or doesn't have political ties is safe. Examples would be PTA , homeless shelters, Big Brothers and Sisters of America, Meals on Wheels, non-profit groups like the Red Cross, anything supporting medical research such as a 10K to find a cure for juvenile diabetes. But remember, you want to make sure you don't include anything that indicates your ethnicity, religion, political affiliations, or sexual orientation. For example, you might wow a manager with your experience, but if you list that you are the VP of a local chapter of a LGBT group, you could be opening yourself up to social prejudices (or, this could be a good way for you to avoid working for discriminatory organizations). Did you volunteer in the last Presidential election? What happens if the manager is a card-carrying member of the opposing party and donated a major amount of money to supporting the losing (or winning) party candidate?

So, to return to the example I alluded to that sparked this conversation. This candidate looked good professionally. But she listed as one of her interests her dog. "Miss Sparkles, a sweet min-pin/schnauzer mixed breed". (Not the real entry.) OK, this is rather amusing, but it raises a red-flag for me. I'm certainly all for pets; I've got several myself. Usually animals are a "safe" topic in terms of volunteering at a shelter, or a rescue organization. But going into *so much* information about your pet is way too obsessive. You would be amazed at the number of employees that either believe there is no reason they shouldn't bring their pets to work, or demand a telecommute schedule so many days a week so they can spend time with Fluffy or Fido. (True stories from this year that I know about first-hand.) And, honestly, listing your pet's name AND breed is *too much information*. Really, trust me on this. Have someone read over your resume and help you determine if someone might be offended or turned off by your interests and activities. ]]>
How Great Thou Art Tue, 27 Jul 2010 15:03:04 -0800 Conquent
I have seen an alarming number of resumes with testimonials on them from (supposed) former clients, managers, co-workers, and "well known" industry experts on resumes. And here's the thing: how do I know you didn't make them up? To be blunt, having people telling me how wonderful you are is for *references*. You know, those things I ask for if I'm planning on making you a job offer. When someone includes testimonial references on their resume, to me it gives the impression that they are trying too hard, that their accomplishments don't stand alone without external validation.

I've mentioned in the past that it's a good idea to have LinkedIn Recommendations. But it *doesn't* mean that they belong on your resume. The difference between seeing a Recommendation on your LinkedIn profile and on your resume is that LI is a tool that I can actually use to validate the comments (by visiting the commentor's profile if I so choose.)

Some professionals that come from a true consulting background adopt the third person formal narrative on their resume. This comes from working as a consultant, where a resume is sent to a potential client as part of an RFP (Request for Proposal) as part of the overall pitch denoting why said company is the best choice; consultants are considered human capital, or deployable assets; their expertise and experience can command top dollar from potential clients. This form of resume is *not* what said consultant should be using in their own search for new employment.

So when you are considering how to "stand out" from the sea of applicants, it's very important to keep in mind your target audience. Are you going to be putting them off with your content or impressing them? If you have been a true consultant, you need to remember that you are selling yourself now, not your former company's reputation and resources. Don't talk about yourself from a lofty height; keep it real and down to earth to connect with your potential new employer.
Confidential? Really? Mon, 2 Aug 2010 12:42:14 -0800 Conquent
So here’s a tip for those of you using the “confidential” feature. If you upload a resume with your name on it, I can see it if I open the profile. If you save the document as “JohnDoe 2010” I know your name and your employment history, and guess what? I can run a search for you on LinkedIn, or Google, or call your company and ask for you.

You need have a blank document that you save as “CareerBuilder2010” (or some other generic name). By blank I mean take off all your contact info. That means headers, footers, etc. If you are *really* trying not to let your company know you are looking, keep the company name confidential, and make sure you strip out any acronyms referring to projects or products.

Whatever your reasons for not wanting your contact information visible, it takes a little more work than just hitting the “confidential” key.
Bullseye Wed, 11 Aug 2010 13:23:15 -0800 Conquent
Late last week I was shocked to see a global corporate careers website with job titles that were misspelled. (This led to a blog on recruiters not being hypocrites when it comes to resume errors.) Then over on LinkedIn, in a group that is targeted at writers and publishers, one of the group members posted a link/discussion topic to a blog she had written on marketing to your audience.

So, here's the thing. If someone is giving me advice on how to create a workable marketing plan for my industry, I expect the article/blog to be *targeted*. If you are giving advice to *writers and publishers*, you don't suggest that they:

"Define the solutions your product or service offers: Do not tell people about the features of your product or service, tell them how your product or service will help them solve a problem that they are experiencing"

Um, we are writers and publishers. Selling printed/online media. We don't NEED to define our solutions or offerings.

So here's my point. If you are marketing or selling *anything* you need to know your audience. I've said over and over that your resume *must be targeted* to potential readers. Guess who that is? RECRUITERS AND HIRING MANAGERS. And what do they care about? Can you demonstrate that you know how to do the job/s you are applying for?

You have 10-15 seconds in a resume to let me know you can fulfill a need I have. Hopefully, that need is fairly well defined in the job description. That means you need to provide concrete examples in your work history that demonstrate an understanding, industry knowledge, and some expertise in the job I am trying to fill.

Moving on to a phone screen, which is where you have the chance to give me some great detailed examples of your fitness for the job. I've been working on some sales/biz dev positions the last few months, and one of the most common reasons candidates are being rejected is because they cannot answer basic questions about developing their contacts. One example was "so if I was to ask you who you know at ABC company, what would you tell me?" The first candidate said "I'd have to check my business card file." Another said "I know the executive admin to the VP over in that division."

Another question a hiring manager used as an example was about a candidate who stated on her resume that she managed a large event for VP's and CEO's of leading industry companies. The manager asked her to tell him how she went about securing the acceptance of the high-level attendees. She didn't answer the question, just started throwing names out there. (Guess what message that gives? Someone else actually got the attendees there.)

These are specific examples of fumbling that can cost a candidate a job. And these are basic questions related to how you do your work, the basics of your industry, and your chance to make (or break) the impression from your resume. Marketing isn't just your resume. It's also how you verbally interact with people and demonstrate your professionalism. In this competitive market, it's all in the details.

Helping Those Who Help Themselves Mon, 30 Aug 2010 12:10:38 -0800 Conquent
Last week I received an email and resume from out of the blue from someone that just moved to Seattle. A very close friend of mine had suggested she send me mail when she got here. Based on just our mutual connection, I am more than happy to help her out. But she is a fairly new graduate, and is lacking in business savvy. She wanted to know what jobs I might have for her.

So here is the thing. Recruiters specialize, we don't just all have hundreds of jobs lying around waiting to be filled in every single industry and job category. And for me to be able to help you at all, you need to have targeted a few companies, some potential opportunities, or even agencies (temp or direct placement) that you are looking to make a connection with. Right now, I'm looking for Product Managers in the tech field. And a couple of sales and marketing folks with very specific requirements. Prior to that I was looking for Project/Program Managers in technology and telecom. And before that it was health care profiles. My positions change fairly regularly, as do most recruiters'. It is important, if you are going to approach a recruiter, that you do it in a way that will be beneficial to both of you. You, by generating leads/connections and valuable insight to the industry. For the recruiter, it will be a maximization of his/her time and ability to help you. Recruiters recognize that helping you now may someday generate potential candidates or business, and believe it or not, most of us really do like helping people; if we didn't, we wouldn't be in this business.

So what is the best way to ask a recruiter to help you in your job search?

-Send a LinkedIn invitation. Make sure to reference how you know the recruiter; the worst thing you can do is send a blind invitation with no context.

Kristen, I saw that you have several connections at University of Washington in recruiting; I applied for a position as a CNA and I was hoping to follow up directly with someone. I was hoping you would be willing to forward an introduction.

-If you have a recruiter's email address, send an introduction.

Dear Kristen, I was given your name by John Smith, who you worked with at XYZ a few years ago. He and I know each other socially, and he thinks you might be a good resource for helping my efforts to find a job as a production manager in the aerospace industry. I'm looking at Boeing, Crane, and a few other companies. I'd really appreciate any suggestions you have regarding finding contacts in any of these companies. I've included a copy of my resume targeted to the aerospace field.

Thanks for your time, Jill Jackson

-Ask them if you could schedule a short phone call or meeting with them. Be aware of their time; if they are employed, they generally will have a short amount of time to answer your questions. For example the week before last I had a conversation with someone that wanted a job at Microsoft. I explained how Microsoft's process worked and how to apply. If you are meeting with a recruiter, make it convenient for them, not you. Today I made arrangements to meet someone I used to work with for lunch right near his office. I'm asking him for leads for openings I have, and wanted to make sure I am able to accomodate his schedule.

The very worst thing you can do is assume that a recruiter can just "get you a job", unless they have posted a job description with their name attached to it and an invitation to contact then regarding potential opportunities.

And if you find a recruiter that happens to be unemployed, remember that they still may know people. Treat them well and they are likely to remember it when they do have an opening.

Guidelines For Constructing Cover Letters Thu, 16 Sep 2010 00:47:27 -0800 Conquent
Even more than your resume, a cover letter should be individualized per each job/title. However, as a recruiter that looks at literally hundreds of resumes per week, I can tell you that the chances I'm going to be interested in reading a cover letter are slim with a very few specific exceptions (I will cover those examples later.)

Here are some over-arching guidelines for constructing a cover letter for an open position.

1) The more detailed the information on the job description, the more targeted and detailed your cover letter should be. You should hit the *defined* points with specific examples from your work history most closely aligned with the points of definition. When I say specific, I generally mean a description of a project or initiative you worked on that may be hinted at on your resume but not spelled out. It is the same principle as behavioral-based interviewing, only tying it to their requirements in writing. If they have several points, choose one or two that you have the strongest case to build on.

2) Your first paragraph should include what job you are referencing and where you heard about it. Especially in the case of recruiters, we track sources for metrics, and it is very helpful to reference where you found the information. For example, my client was contacted directly by one of the VP's of a company she is interested in, about a general cultural fit with the company (as opposed to a specific position). If the cover letter that goes to recruiting, they will know that the VP was interested in her background and that he has an interest in her profile, rather than her pursuing his attentions. In that case, the recruiter/HR rep will actually give it a higher priority and be more proactive. In the case of an opportunistic (undefined role or future opportunity that hasn't been published yet) it's fine to just reference being a cultural and functional fit, as I did with that particular cover letter.

3) You should have no more than 3-4 paragraphs. The length of each paragraph is going to be defined by a couple of things.
A) the length of the job description
B) the detail in the JD
C) level or type of position
D) whether or not you are applying directly to a job or it is being passed along by a third party (ie a friend at a company or a headhunter/placement company).

If you are applying to an advertised job, say on LinkedIn or the corporate career site with no real "person" you are forming a relationship with, your cover letter should be very short and only used if the JD requests one. (The truth is that most recruiters don't read them if they are coming in via some sort of external posting. It's an annoyance and they want to get to the meat of the professional experience the candidate brings to the table.) If you are supplying a cover letter for a neutral (ie no personal contact) job, after you identify the what/where-how in paragraph one, then the second and third paragraph should use the examples in point 1, and each paragraph should be no more than 3-5 sentences.

4) Your final paragraph should be short, sweet and to he point, reiterating your interest and excitement about the position. I recommend taking a proactive assumption that you will be getting the job in most instances. I also include general availability (time zone, days/times most convenient) and best contact method/s. (Alternatively, include your email address/phone number under your closing.)

5) Closing should be professional or if it is an employee referral from someone you know, say thank you again for forwarding the opportunity, as that will reiterate your relationship with the employee. Employee Referrals are the single best way into any company and are most effective if it is someone you have worked with in some capacity in the past.
Grow Up, Be Respectful Wed, 22 Sep 2010 00:04:47 -0800 Conquent
Additionally, I recently posted an ad on Craigslist for a technical position for one of my hiring managers. There was no email address listed, and the directions *very clearly* stated that to apply for the position, candidates must follow the (provided) link for consideration. I received the usual spam, but at least three candidates that hit the "reply to poster" button and didn't apply online. Guess what? I deleted their resumes. For this particular position, the employer requires (and it has to do with federal compliance EEOC/AA guidelines) all candidates to apply directly online to the job. No exceptions. Now, this particular job is very much just beyond entry level; the manager was looking for someone with 1-2 years of business experience out of college. So what does that say to me? That probably 99.9% of the applicants are in their 20's. If you cannot read basic directions, you aren't the right person for this job.

Regardless of age, the above-referenced behaviors are *unacceptable*. Period. And believe me, employers *do* blackball you in their own databases.

There are a lot of generalities about GenY and their approach to the workforce, their place in it, and how they interact with others. I've been reading blogs, white papers, articles, and books on this topic and have found an overwhelming support for many of the suppositions people make.

The Digital Natives bring an amazing skill set to the workplace. They are technically savvy beyond any generation before them. They are amazing multi-taskers. I don't believe any previous generation has managed to truly capture the concept of "collaboration" as well as this current age bracket. BUT: some of their habits and behaviors are off-putting to the extent that they can become unhirable in today's market.

So let me tell you GenY, a few things about the workplace.

1) It's not all about you, how companies can best accomodate your needs. It's about the bottom line ($) and finding and retaining the talent that is going to bring the most bang for the buck. That means you need to prove you can hold a job long enough to make a valuable contribution to the company. This means that you shouldn't be job hopping yearly or every two years of your own volition.

2) Chances are that you are not going to be the head of the international marketing team, traveling all over the globe at your employer's expense, one to five years out of college. Believe it or not, there is a career path. Prove yourself for a couple of years, then jump up that corporate ladder. The common thread running through this all is *prove yourself*.

3) Social media is important, but don't let your texting/tweeting/facebooking/etc. get in the way of doing your job. Most businesses have established time to *work*, and that doesn't mean attending to your social network for 3/8 hours is okay just because you work until 8 PM. You are expected to be productively working for the general eight hours everyone else is. Why? Because this is when most of a business' customers expect them to be available.

4) Everyone else you work with is focused on their own responsibilities, including your supervisor. In general, *no news is good news*. If you don't get negative feedback on your work, that is the same as receiving *positive* feedback. The fastest way to change someone's good opinion of you is to constantly *ask how you are doing at your job.*

4A) Most people in professional settings need to focus on tasks, and constantly interrupting them or expecting an instant response to a non-critical communique is not appreciated. Learn patience.

5) Your job is not a LARP. Your team is not playing a game with you. This is not a video game. This is a business. Treat it as such, not as some real-world version of WoW.

6) And "open door policy" does not mean that you should go to the VP of your division with every idea for better ways to do things, or to try and work around the procedures that are in place (for a reason). If you have process improvement ideas, try talking to your manager first. If s/he is unresponsive, talk to his/her boss. Believe me, if you go over heads too many times, you are quite replaceable, especially in today's economy.

If you are unhappy with the way things are run at the company that is paying you, please feel free to go open your own business; you can run it how you want, implement whatever policies you feel are reasonable, and manage your time and working conditions exactly as you please. But while someone else is paying you and you choose to stay, you need to play by their rules. It's sort of inherent in the fact that you are accepting their money.

And You Are Contacting Me...Why? Tue, 5 Oct 2010 00:05:28 -0800 Conquent
So, the candidate apologized for the "blind" (meaning "you have no idea who I am but I picked you to help me with this question because you are in the right general organization") contact and proceeded to ask me a question for which I am completely unqualified. I suggested the person contact his HR Generalist and the recruiter assigned to his organization to answer this question, because I am not trained to do so.

I was puzzled, confused, and tried to identify who this person was after I directed him elsewhere. He is in another country, and I could not identify how I might know him from my various roles in recruiting. It truly appeared he chose me at random, which I don't understand because every group has a dedicated HR and Recruiting contact that is easily identifiable via our intranet and their own portal link. ("My HR").

So this got me to thinking about something I've seen a lot of the last few years. Part of it is related to the Recession, but part of it is a breakdown of formal barriers in the workplace.

I've touched on this before, when it comes to professional branding for individuals. In our very connected world, it's prudent to assume that someone you come into contact with one day will be someone you run into down the road in a completely different context. Unless your name is "Jennifer Smith" or "Joe Brown", the chances are that you will be memorable. So it behooves you to make sure that when you are reaching out to professional SME's or resources that you do your homework and know how they can help you. I've already written on how to prepare to help me help you; this is more about generally understanding that when you ask the wrong person the wrong question, you damage your own professional image. That isn't to say that people aren't willing to help out, but before you choose some random person in the address book, do a bit of digging to find out the *right* authority, not just "a/n" authority. Because I promise you that this sort of thing can follow you for a very long time. ]]>
Resume - Education vs. Professional Development Wed, 6 Oct 2010 22:14:36 -0800 Conquent
While it can be argued that "professional development" *is* a form of education, when it comes to your resume your "education" section should be reserved for your formal matriculated education. That is classes, degrees or diplomas from accredited institutions (High School and college/university.)

Some notes on your formal education and how to best portray it on your resume. This is especially germaine to college students, but is applicable to anyone.

GPA: if your GPA is less than a 3.5, don't put it on your resume *unless a job application asks for it.* I saw a resume from someone that has been in the workforce more than three years earlier this week, and he listed his GPA as 3.001. That is not impressive and actually detracts from his work experience, which should speak for itself. One of my resume clients has her 4.0 GPA on her resume even though she has been in the work world a good 15 years. A high GPA ( and/or "Summa Cum Laude" or "Magna Cum Laude") is a value add, but not necessary.

Unfinished degrees: If you have a BA and are working on an MBA (or PhD), it's fine to include your MBA *with an expected graduation date*, which should not be more than 1-2 years out. I don't advise putting a never-ending degree on your resume. If you started your BA in 1999 and still haven't completed it, the message that sends to me is that you have no intention of finishing it, and (fair or not) I wonder what else you may not complete. Most degrees can be finished in 5 years part-time these days. If a job requires a Bachelor's, and you don't have it, telling me you are "most of the way there" isn't going to change the fact that a full degree is still required. And it's the *hiring* manager that determines the educational degree, not the recruiter. "Required" means just that: if you don't have it, you aren't qualified. Period. This is when "or equivalent experience" can come into play. A general rule of thumb is that if you don't have the required degree, you need to have at least five years of relevant (as in same type of job, same field), RECENT experience to replace the educational degree.

Classwork listed on your resume.
OK, this seems to confuse people. This is *only* relevant for new grads. Classwork that is related to a job you are applying for can be an indicator for a recruiter or hiring manager that you have some additional skill or knowledge that isn't necessarily indicated via your degree. For example, let's say you got a degree in English and a minor in Human Resources and are applying for an administrative assistant job at a temporary agency. Listing out specific HR classes/projects you may have taken could give you an edge.

There is no reason to ever list indivdual high school classes on your resume. If you took some sort of vocational program, list the program, not the classes.

Let's move on to Professional Development and what is applicable for your resume. As a rule of thumb, if you receive specialized training on tools to help you do your job, and now you are using that tool fairly regularly, the coursework *doesn't need to be on your resume.* Work experience will always trump workshops. For example, if you took an introduction to Quickbooks five years ago, and you are now using Quickbooks for your company's general ledger, the class is irrelevant.

Professional development that teaches you general soft skills shouldn't be on your resume (such as "Effective Communication for Managers" or "Ten Habits of Highly Effective People" or "Time Management For Professionals") . While they may help you become a better person or professional, they aren't relevant to what a hiring manager is looking for.

Any training that helps you understand legal or compliance-based knowledge in your industry is applicable for your resume. For example, in recruiting there have been major changes in our industry from a compliance standpoint that had a definite implementation date, and before I started working with those changes on a regular basis, my resume had "OFCCP training" on it. Now "OFCCP" is part of my summary of qualifications along with my knowledge of international visa processing because I use it on a daily basis. If you are in a credentialed profession that requires you to take ongoing classes, such as law or dentristry, you don't need to continually mention those classes as they are intrinsically linked to your licensure.

Likewise, if you are pursuing some sort of a certification, the classes aren't relevant. For example, if you are going after your PMP or PHR, just tell me that your certification is "in process" or expected to be awarded in December of 2010. (And if you are just studying for the exam and haven't scheduled it, *it doesn't count on your resume*.)

Conversely, if you took a compliance class for a job you held eight years ago and you no longer use, take it off your resume. I continually stress *targeted content* on your resume. That means targeted to what is relevant NOW. If you don't use it, take it off. Don't confuse your reader.

When all is said and done, it is your work history that is what a recruiter and hiring manager are looking at. Keep the focus of the content of your resume tight and relevant, painting a detailed picture of who you are now.
Is Your Shorthand Language Making You a Mediocre Candidate? Wed, 13 Oct 2010 17:28:36 -0800 Conquent

A friend of mine in her 40's is just finishing up her PhD. Her focus is very much on the Digital Native generation (GenY, the Millenials) both in her research and her teaching. She posted a Facebook update that she has noticed that her written communications have become short and abbreviated, due to her heavy use of Twitter, texting her teenage son and her students, and using more shorthand in our connected world.

My comment to her was that her communication skills are degrading, from a business perspective.

I've noticed this more and more in the last few years as texting shorthand has become more prevalent and as IM is becoming more of preferred communication tool in the workplace. And I have to say, there is no excuse for poor language skills in any professional setting.

It is one of the red flags that will differentiate a top candidate from a mediocre one.

From a job seeking perspective, most candidates stop at considering resumes/CV's and cover letters for their communications. But in today's tight global economy, recruiters and hiring managers are using tools like social media platforms as additional screening opportunities.

For example, if you have a Facebook or LinkedIn profile and you use texting shorthand, that screams that you aren't really discerning about your external branding. The same with a blog. If you don't use proper grammar (one of the biggest examples I see of this in English is not capitalizing 'I' to indicate the first person) and full, correctly spelled words then it indicates that you are more casual and somewhat sloppy in your work life.

I belong to several groups on LinkedIn for both professional and personal interests. All these groups have discussion boards, and when someone posts a long response to an article or question and doesn't bother to communicate in formal, business English, I admit to immediately having a negative impression of them, regardless of the content of the response.

So from a recruiting perspective, make sure that all your external written communications are tight, professional and convey a sense of maturity and gravity. Save the shorthand for your actual texting and social interactions

Read more at: ]]>
The Problem With Buzz Words Mon, 18 Oct 2010 07:01:35 -0800 Conquent
But what I often find is candidates that use "buzz words" on their resumes or in conversations incorrectly, out of context, or as hard factual concepts rather than what they are (and they are NOT key words, for the record). For example, I have been speaking with fairly recent MBA graduates. And one thing almost all of them list as a *must have* for their next opportunity is "mentoring".

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be in an environment where you can learn from more experienced co-workers. But when you tell me one of your *top three things that must be present in a job* includes "mentoring", to me that speaks of a structured HR-sponsored program where someone is assigned to you to guide you through your career. And quite honestly, that says to me that you aren't self-directed and that you are looking to someone else to map out your career development, much as a parent with a child. And in the real world, at the level I am recruiting at, that is not necessarily the impression
you want to make.

I was discussing this with one of my colleagues and she was the one who pointed out that "mentor" is a new MBA buzz word. Be that as it may, it's vitally important that young professionals understand the image they portray in how they answer questions. If you tell me in one sentence you want to be a VP or GM, then in the next tell me that you must have someone show you how to map out your career, that doesn't create a cohesive picture.

When a candidate speaks to a recruiter/HR representative for the first time, the recruiter is gauging their communication skills and if their experience and career goals map to the opportunities available at a company. I'm currently working with a Global 100 company that looks for independent thinking, self-management, and drive in all their candidates. Hopefully you can see how the impressions I'm receiving and the candidate profile I'm seeking don't necessarily mesh.

So make sure when you are discussing your next opportunity with someone that you don't turn them off by using "buzz words" and concepts in a way that isn't going to put you in the best light.

You Say "honest and forthright", I say "bitter and sarcastic" Fri, 29 Oct 2010 20:13:14 -0800 Conquent
Wow. Talk about a stupid thing to do. He complained about every facet of recruiting. I posted an answer, trying to explain some of the realities of recruiting, as did several other current and past recruiters. But all he did was blame everyone else but himself for the fact that he couldn't find a job. Finally, I told him he probably would be better off running his own consulting business and not relying on other people to market and sell his particular "professional brand".

Because that is what recruiters do for candidates. We learn what your brand is, and we help you market and sell it to our clients, in this case hiring managers. Whether you are working with an agency or a corporate recruiter, however the process works, they are your marketing agency.

When a candidate looks good "on paper", the next step is often a phone screen. And when I conduct a phone screen, I'm looking for communication skills and cultural fit. And guess what will land an otherwise qualified candidate in the trash pile? Poor attitude. It could be cocky or overconfident or blase, or it could be someone that is timid or all over the map when it comes to discussing their history. Keep in mind that I expect more aplomb from a senior candidate with years under their belt than a fairly new graduate, but you do need to be able to talk to me and tell my why *you* are the right candidate for the job.

So how does *your* professional brand translate? Like a whiny teenager or a motivated, smart professional that is an asset to any organization?
Why Does "Overqualified" Mean "Unemployable"? Tue, 2 Nov 2010 17:29:55 -0800 Conquent
Much of it has to do with making sure that a potential employee is going to be the right fit for the opportunities available. For example, someone sent me a job description this week for a "sourcing recruiter" (my recruiting specialty), but in the actual job description, it stated they were looking for a "sourcing recruiter or a recruiting assistant". I actually replied to the person that sent me the mail, because I happen to know a couple of people that might be interested, but not in a junior role. Yes, compensation is part of it. But more than that, most of my colleagues have spent far too much time building up their skills, working with very high level hiring managers on senior positions. There is a more junior version of this role, that of an "internet recruiter", who’s sole job it is to run keyword matches in databases between resumes and jobs. While that is certainly the most basic part of what I can do, it is one very small piece, and if that is what a potential employer is looking for, neither I nor other senior talent sourcing recruiters are going to be interested, even if the pay *is* good *unless* they are out of work or looking to return to the workforce after a hiatus (such as FMLA, or maybe returning from military duty). The job would be boring, repetitious, not challenging, and would make new colleagues uncomfortable finding out how much more experienced we are. And it certainly would put our potential boss on the defensive (imagine hiring someone with ten years more experience than you, that was doing *your* job in the nineties.)

Although the candidate reply is "I'm willing to take a job I'm overqualified for" and "I have no problem taking a pay cut", recruiters and hiring managers have to consider long-term implications of hiring new employees. Our responsibility is first and foremost to the *company*, including existing employees. While someone "overqualified" may be a great investment in the short run, many companies have gone this route and regretted it in the long run for any number of reasons, and are gun shy of hiring them. In more prosperous years, "overqualified" candidates were often those that were trying to power down from a high profile/fast track career, scaling back for work-life balance. The unfortunate reality is that right now, the number of candidates on the *upward* track that are available is quite high, and managers are looking for human capital investments that are going to be an asset to a company over the longer haul.

One of the tracks taken in the discussion I started off with had to do with "creating" opportunities by using a value proposition for a small-midsize company that may have more flexibility with headcount than a larger company with complex formulae determining how many people to hire for any given fiscal year. There is merit to this approach; however what I have seen is that candidates are seeking stability. This brings us back to our original dilemma. Candidates that are fighting the "overqualified" label need to position themselves appropriately to gain the interest of recruiters and hiring managers; and that means your resume is probably what needs to be your #1 marketing tool.
Let's Talk Internships Thu, 11 Nov 2010 09:13:44 -0800 Conquent
In case you hadn't heard, it's a fiercely competitive job market out there. There is still a recession going on, and unless you are graduating in the top 5% from an ivy league school, or have a job lined up after graduation your chances of landing a paying career in your field of choice are not as plentiful as they were when you started school. And while having a summer job at the local McDonald's or lifeguarding at the local pool might be a bona fide job, it isn't going to give you the leg-up over your peers. Internships can do that; they are short term jobs in the real world doing real things. If you are lucky, it is paid. But even an unpaid internship gives you valuable real-life work experience.

Most career centers should have information about internships. There are external sources you can plug into, however. Probably the most visible three that I know of are Lauren Berger, the "Intern Queen" (, InternMatch ( and's internship board. (They have changed things up a little so now you will need to go to to the job board and type do a search under "internship" as a type of employment; but at least today there were 29 pages.)

Most large companies in the US have structured internship programs. The trick is to identify the companies you are interested in working with and then start making connections. Most companies are using LinkedIn these days, but many more are realizing that the place to find top talent in the younger workforce is going to be on When you are looking for company contacts using filtering, you want to look for "Campus Recruiter" as the title. Most companies that have specific roles dedicated to hiring new graduates or students use that term as opposed to "College Recruiter", to differentiate from the recruiting professionals that work *at* colleges recruiting new *students*.

But let's say you want something different, you want to structure your own opportunity? Most small businesses can use more help but don't necessarily have the funds to create an internship, so you may need to offer yourself to them as an unpaid intern. To do this you will need to work with your school to develop the outline that will allow you to receive credit for your work. The US Department of Labor has very strict guidelines for unpaid internships.

1.The training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to what would be given in a vocational school or academic educational instruction
2.The training is for the benefit of the trainees
3.The trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under their close observation
4.The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees, and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded
5.The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period; and
6.The employer and the trainees understand that the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.

There are also international opportunities, however you must be able to communicate in a foreign language fluently if you are not going to a primarily English speaking country. If you want an international experience but want to stay in North America, Canada might be a good option. They generally call internships "Co-ops".

An internship (or several!) in your field can help you become a more desirable potential employee. Many employers prefer to hire former interns after they graduate, and some may even structure their internship programs specifically as a recruiting tool. When you are interviewing, it is perfectly appropriate to ask what percentage of interns are hired after graduation, assuming a successful internship. Good luck, and start thinking about your options as early as you have decided on a career. ]]>
"Learn To Face the Changes" - Mon, 15 Nov 2010 12:17:09 -0800 Conquent
He feels that social media is a waste of time; he doesn't have the time to start and maintain a blog; the local SME's already know him and haven't reached out to him.

So, in short, he was moaning about his lot in life but was unwilling to do anything about it. To my community of readers, this is the sort of candidate that recruiters don't want to have anything to do with. Not only does he have a bad attitude, but he is an example of why many hiring managers are not keen to hire older professionals. This gentleman asked my professional advice, and did nothing but think of reasons to ignore my suggestions. That is his perogative, but I guarantee you that he will remain where he is and I will not lift one finger to help him. I gave him my info to send me a LinkedIn invitation, and he hasn't taken advantage of it.

So I leave you with this quotation, which is fast becoming a favorite of mine:

“If you do what you have always done, you'll get what you've always gotten” - Anthony Robbins ]]>
Being A Good Candidate Wed, 1 Dec 2010 13:44:37 -0800 Conquent
We were talking about unrealistic expectations on the part of some candidates. We talked about the laid off executive that expected her to function as his personal headhunter, managing his entire job search including updating his resume and turning up job leads for him and scheduling his interviews. Then there was the recent PhD graduate that could only work 16-20 weeks, wouldn't commute more than 15 minutes away from home, wanted to make six figures, and had so many restrictions on her availability that she was basically unemployable given the parameters of her profile. (We reached the same conclusion that she would be best served as a consultant where she could set her own hours and fees.)

My friend and I used to work together as recruiters. She made the choice to pursue this career path due to her interests and strengths. As a state worker, she isn't making nearly the amount of money that she would in the private sector, but she loves her job. When I made the choice to be a very "public" recruiting presence in the local market, we weren't in a recession with the high unemployment that we have now. I constantly receive referrals (i.e. unsolicited resumes), requests from people to get them a job, and questions ranging from getting a visa to move to the US, to getting an introduction to hiring managers at companies I have worked for, to "hey can you check out my cousin's resume?". I also have hiring managers or other recruiters send me job descriptions to see if I know anyone that might be a fit, or if I have any resources to pursue that might yield quality candidates. I also have one or two friends that own their own business that occasionally need help devising a job description or posting a job somewhere.

I try and help where I can, but time is a tight commodity for me. And recruiting is my *job*; I get paid for my services. I realize that not everyone can afford to pay for individualized help on their resume or their job search, which is one of the reasons why I keep a blog and answer questions in my weekly column (and refer them to my friend at WorkSource). I know that small businesses without a dedicated HR department might need assistance now finding help on a project. And if I know you well either professionally or personally, chances are I'm more than willing to help out. We're all in this together. But people reaching out blindly and being unwilling to manage their own career don't get any points with me or my colleagues. "Recruiters" are generally pretty busy people. Just because we hang out where we are visible or post a job, it's important for job seekers to understand that we aren't personal headhunters for anyone. If we aren't able to help you specifically, please don't take it personally as a refusal to get involved. And if you ask us for advice, please don't act badly if that advice doesn’t sound like something you would be interested in. You asked, we answered with our professional opinion. Take it or leave it, but please don't be ungrateful.

Please remember that we guard our professional networks zealously. If you have a business idea you want to pitch to Microsoft, I'm NOT the person to contact for the name of the VP in X business division. Not only will I refuse to do it, asking me for that name damages your credibility with me if you decide next month to look for a job and I happen to know the hiring manager or recruiter for that dream job you found.

I love what I do. I enjoy meeting people from around the world, exchanging ideas, and helping people find jobs especially in these tough times. Most of my colleagues feel the same way or we wouldn't be doing what we do. I am just requesting that the workforce at large please respect me/us and to understand our boundaries when it comes to helping out.

Why “I Can Do That!” Isn’t Good Enough Mon, 20 Dec 2010 07:55:14 -0800 Conquent I hear this a lot. Candidates know they “can do it”. Usually it is a job they have done in the past, or something that they have already wanted to get into. Many people don’t understand that right now, in this economy, there are so many skilled candidates with an almost perfect fit to a job description, that just because someone believes they are a perfect fit for a job, doesn’t mean they are.

Let’s say you are looking at a job as an Project Manager for a global telecommunications company. You have been a software architect in a small business that creates business solutions for airline reservation systems. Now, fifteen years ago, you started as a business analyst at a local phone company. You are interested in moving from hands-on coding into a formal Project Management role, and you feel that your exposure to the industry fifteen years ago, coupled with the fact that you’ve been acting as a project lead for the last three years should make you a great candidate to consider for this role.

From a recruiting standpoint, I wouldn’t even look at your resume even if you came up in a keyword search. Why? Because I have over 18 applicants from T-Mobile and AT & T Wireless that have an average of 7-10 years of Project Management experience and all of them have a certification that is listed in the job description.
Let’s say you have been a lab assistant in a local biotech company, and you see that one of the local community hospitals is looking for a shift lead in their lab, and you think this is the perfect opportunity for you to make a forward move. You submit your resume, thinking that you are the perfect candidate for the job.

But here’s the thing. A community hospital most likely gets some sort of federal funding, and in the last 3-4 years, the federal government has put some EEOC and Affirmative Action mandates in place that means that the hospital must prove that it is seriously considering all qualified applicants for the job posted. And the job is for a lead, requiring at least 2 years of lead experience in a hospital setting. You work for a biotech company and have never had the lead title, so you aren’t even a “qualified candidate”.

So just because you think you *can* do a job, or you really really want to do a job, that isn’t what a recruiter sees when they are evaluating candidates. We are looking for those professionals that can come into a job and have the functional skill set for the position. If you are looking to make a career move, your best bet is to stay with your current employer and get a promotion if at all possible. If there is no further career track, you should be considering lateral moves to similar organizations in your industry with growth potential. With so many “picture perfect” candidates out there, your chances of being noticed for the centerfold photo op are pretty slim.
A Degree Is Not A Substitute For Experience Tue, 4 Jan 2011 11:04:19 -0800 Conquent
So here's the thing: unless you are getting a degree to help you advance in your current profession, when you get out of school unless it is a lateral industry move, most likely you will need to start with an entry or lower level job. People who think that getting an advanced degree guarantees them an immediate increase in responsibility and pay right out of school don't understand basic business principles.

For example, if you have been a recruiting coordinator and you attain a BA in Human Resources, it is reasonable to believe you can get a better paying job in the HR field. However, if you decide to get your MA in Marketing, chances are you will need to start as a Marketing Coordinator or other support role. Don't expect to become a Marketing Manager the first year out of school doubling your salary. Theoretical classroom knowledge is not going to substitute for on-the-job experience. It is one of the reasons why internships are so valuable for undergrads. Employers don't always have the luxury of training new employees in business practices as well developing their theoretical skills into practical business applications.

A couple of years ago there was a question on LinkedIn about whether getting an MBA right out of college was a better option than working for a couple of years first then getting the MBA. My response was (and still is): work first. Gain an understanding of business in general, find out what you like and are good at *in a business setting*, then decide what you want to do with your MBA. It makes you a more valuable candidate and you may be suprised at the results.

Just as reading romance novels does not give you the experience of being in a real relationship, neither does studying the dynamics of business principles make you a keen businessman. ]]>
What Employers Want Mon, 17 Jan 2011 18:32:29 -0800 Conquent
But the comments I got were from a hiring manager and I wanted to share it here:

"We have had 4 hires for 2 positions and had one work out. We are looking for someone organized; willing to follow up; willing to show up to work; smart; willing to learn; and not a drama queen. We are willing to spend the time teaching the industry. You would think, given the economy, that we would find many. We have many applicants but few who can demonstrate or have the qualities that an employer really wants which is more than a piece of paper saying you went to class.

Perhaps you could find a way to help work the employer's perspective into your column(s.) It might for people to understand why they don't get hired or why they are let go. It not frequently age, race, etc. as you imply in your ageism comment. I believe employers will take good people assuming one can find one. I know we keep people if they perform even if it hurts to carry some extra cost."

Notice the important points he makes? Professional; smart; organized; willing to show up; not a "drama queen".

This is a small company in a growing field (biotech). He is looking for someone to lead his office. Folks, it is a buyer's market right now. YOU are the sellers. I received a resume today from someone that attended a resume seminar I conducted last week, and guess what was on her original resume? She is looking for a job that will give her the flexibility to have a family.

Now, while that is a fine goal for yourself, it is guaranteed to send up red flags to a potential employer. The message this sends is of someone that is not going to stick around after becoming a parent, or even worse, expect an employer to work around her decision to have a family if she stays. In other words, a drama queen.

Think about what kind of a professional you are Not just how you present yourself when looking for a job, but also after you are *on* the job.

Rules of Engagement - Networking Tue, 25 Jan 2011 09:31:01 -0800 Conquent
Now, the company I am working with doesn't *use* CAD designers. EVER. It's a well-known company (Fortune 500). I'm still puzzling why this person sent me his resume and the only thing I can figure out is that he is desperate. And his approach, to shoot his resume and boilerplate cover and resume to me, really left a bad impression.

If he was interested in approaching me for opportunities he is qualified for, he should have sent me an email (my address was included) introducing himself and asking if I by chance know of any opportunities for a CAD designer either with my client or other companies.

It's all in the approach and delivery. I'm perfectly happy to network and help out when I can, but it's vital to act professionally and understand the rules of engagement. So when you are making your own networking outreach, please think about who you are contacting and *what you hope to gain from the contact.* ]]>
Quality Over Quantity Thu, 27 Jan 2011 14:34:42 -0800 Conquent
So here is what happens when recruiters start seeing the same name and resume all the time. They stop looking at it. Seriously, most of us recruit on somewhat similar OR vastly different skill sets. And either way, if this person is applying to hundreds of jobs either A) there is a reason s/he isn't getting hired B) s/he is lying on their resume C) s/he is desperate. No one person can be qualified for hundreds of jobs across a global company with thousands of openings at any given time.

And believe me, recruiters *do* talk amongst themselves, and if someone is showing up in dozens of searches daily, they get passed along as desperate. When it comes to applying for jobs, we look for *quality not quantity*. It's the same with having multiple profiles on Monster or sites like LinkedIn. It gives you a shady reputation of someone not to be trusted, fair or not.

This is not a numbers game, believe it or not. You want to be judicious with your efforts. I know a lot of folks are in difficult situations financially, but it's vital that your professional image remains just that...professional. You are better served networking and working at strengthening your professional circle of peers. ]]>
How To Immediately Disqualify Yourself From A Job Wed, 2 Feb 2011 08:34:51 -0800 Conquent
So here are two things I saw which *disqualified candidates immediately*. The first was a functional resume. Why does that disqualify you? Because I cannot tell what jobs have relevant experience to compare against the job description. If you cannot tell me WHEN and WHERE you did specific job duties, I'm not passing you on to a hiring manager because there are at least 30 other candidates that can show me exactly what they have done that is relevant.

The other thing that actually appalled me? FIVE resume without DATES on them of employment history. And there are plenty of candidates that have been out of the workforce over a year that are still in the running. But dates on employment are a required part of applying for *any* job and just not bothering to put them on there is worse than shooting yourself in the foot.

So if you have been applying a lot of places and not hearing back, you may want to re-evaluate your resume and make sure that you are putting your best and most *logical* foot forward. ]]>
Carpe Diem - Networking Wed, 16 Feb 2011 16:03:34 -0800 Conquent
While we were on board, being my normal friendly self, I was talking to folks that work for the cruise line, the production company, family members of the bands, etc. Whether she managed to make any connections or not, I at least know the opportunity was there.

I guess my point is, networking isn't just about your own "network". It is about following leads that might not seem to make sense, but present themselves anyway. While I was in Miami (the night before the cruise) I went to a local salon to get a pedicure, and guess who I met? Someone that works for Microsoft Venezuela. Her daughter is one of the owners of the salon. So what did I do? I got her email address and just sent her email. I am going to follow up with her on referrals for positions I am recruiting on.

My own path to becoming a top Seattle recruiter started in just such a manner. I moved to Portland, OR. Soon after, I got a phone call from a friend from Cincinnati. His Dad lived in Portland. He himself had just moved to Seattle with a friend from HS going to med school.

Turns out the med student's girlfriend did contract costume work for a marketing manager at Microsoft. He needed an admin, and I ended up getting the job. (I worked into recruiting from there.) Convoluted? Yes. But one of the *best* professional opportunities given, and decisions I ever made.

Don't blind yourself to opportunities. The proverbial "box" is much more of a dodecahedron these days and takes a lot more "outside thinking" to get out of.
Career Management-I Have Seen The Future... Thu, 17 Feb 2011 13:49:40 -0800 Conquent
In case you don't know what Management Consulting is, check out Wikipedia:

"Management consulting indicates both the industry and practice of helping organizations improve their performance primarily through the analysis of existing business problems and development of plans for improvement.

Organizations hire the services of management consultants for a number of reasons, including gaining external (and presumably objective) advice and access to the consultants' specialized expertise.

Because of their exposure to and relationships with numerous organizations, consulting firms are also said to be aware of industry "best practices", although the transferability of such practices from one organization to another may be problematic depending on the situation under consideration[citation needed].

Consultancies may also provide organizational change management assistance, development of coaching skills, technology implementation, strategy development, or operational improvement services. Management consultants generally bring their own, proprietary methodologies or frameworks to guide the identification of problems, and to serve as the basis for recommendations for more effective or efficient ways of performing business tasks."

It takes a lot to be a Management Consultant. High grades in school (from a good program), usually an MBA is preferred and often at least some industry experience in your field of expertise. And the job itself can be grueling: many days traveling on the road, away from home (frequent flier miles!). But the upside is that the pay is highly lucrative, and a couple of years in the field and you are highly sought after by corporate recruiters. And, if youquent leave on good terms, there is the huge bonus of having dedicated networks. Many of the big consulting firms have job boards for their alumni (I've used a good number of them in the past.)

If you believe you fit this criteria, start contacting the large firms (think Deloitte, Accenture, Cap Gemini etc.) and/or networking with consultants in the field. They have offices globally, so if you are a strong candidate, chances are good that you may be able to have your "home base" in a major city close to where you are now.

Why are they so sought after? Partly due to the perception that only the top of the top are hired. Also, they must be flexible, deployable to a wide variety of client sites, self-managed, and highly motivated. With the business world becoming more globally focused every day, breadth as well as depth of experience is becoming preferred in candidates for large organizations. And with the exception of startups, most people want stability that a larger organization brings.

So something to consider for your career management if you are looking at next steps. ]]>
Behavioral Based Interviews Wed, 23 Feb 2011 14:10:21 -0800 Conquent
What exactly *is* behavioral-based interviewing? It's a style of questioning used more and more today. The basic premise is that what you have done and how you have acted in the past will be a good indicator of how you will handle future situations.

Your best preparation is to think of situations in your professional past that were difficult, contained some element of conflict or decision making, and had a positive outcome. Your clues are going to be in the job description and your own field. For example, as a recruiter I am generally asked about dealing with a difficult manager (account management), or persuading a manager to look at a candidate that didn't fit their "model" for the job (persuasion), or how I handle a candidate that lied on their application/resume (ethics, conflict). If you are in project management, you might be asked about a time when a project slipped or handling change orders. When I'm speaking to an Executive Administrator, I ask about specific examples of dealing with confidential information. And those candidates who don't give me a *specific situation* obviously aren't listening and probably won't be good in a full interview loop.

You have to remember that the employer is looking not just at your resolution to an issue or conflict, but also how you communicate. The example you choose is just as important as the outcome. If you choose something well, lame, the hiring manager isn't going to be confident in your ability to react under pressure, or your self confidence. If you cannot think of an example and say that you have never had to deal with major conflict, at worst you are lying (and perhaps have a poor employment history and you lack initiative) or at best that you just don't have enough experience.

There are dozens of websites on the subject. But, again, your best preparation is your own career history which you should know really well. ]]>
Publishing Industry Watch Fri, 4 Mar 2011 08:37:10 -0800 Conquent
Here's why. I've read really bad books that have been published by major NY houses. And I've read some really good eBooks. And vice versa, of course. The deciding factor comes down to editing. The argument from the "Snobby" writers tends to be that publishing house editors really know their trade and enhance a book immensely. ePubs don't all have editors (some do). And especially the recent storm about the young 26-year old woman that is taking the Kindle market by storm the question becomes: who is the judge of what is "good" writing?

I try to be fair in my assessments. On all sides, you have the voice of the readers, at large. While huge sales are by no means the only definitive criteria of "good" writing, it certainly is a reasonable indicator. (You don't get to be on the the New York Times bestseller list if you aren't a "best seller.") And in this day and age of community opinion, how many of us have never read the comments on to see whether or not they were positive endorsements of a book? Exactly.

So, let's talk about editors, and specifically about publishing house editors. For those of you that don't know the traditional publishing world in any depth, there is a process that is akin to a job search. You submit a query letter (which is sort of the equivalent of a resume/cover letter combined) and a sample of your work. Each publishing house has different rules you must follow for submission, on its website. Once you have submitted your work, it is then given to an editor who is responsible for your genre, or type of writing (fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, etc.) Theoretically, this person knows what is "hot" in your category currently and what constitutes "good" writing (plot, characters, dialogue, and basic use of English.) They read either a few sentences, paragraphs, or pages of your book then either say "yes" or "no". If it is a "no" there are levels of rejection letters you receive. If they like the basics, they may send you a personalized rejection that tells you how to make it better and an invitation to resubmit. But the majority of rejections are form letters. Editors are the cogs that make the wheels of the publishing industry turn.

Now, a diligent (as opposed to "good") author is familiar with the process of writing a novel/book. First you write it and edit it yourself. Then you seek external opinions in various forms. That can be a critique group or partner, or hiring a professional (freelance) editor, or possibly sending it directly to an agent. As with any professional endeavor, training is available in various forms. Articles, workshops, conferences, etc. So there really is no excuse to not learning the way the industry works.

In addition, epubs offer agents and publishing houses both unparalleled access to exciting new authors at very low cost. But here's the thing: as excellent new writers emerge on the epub scene, I'm guessing they aren't going to be interested in traditional publishing where they lose so much of the rights to profits.

The way I see it, if NY (and global) publishing houses don't start embracing epublishing and *appropriately staffing* for the shift, their time is limited. I see an upswing in the number of freelance editors out there with "big house" experience as well as the emergence of some exciting new talent. My observations are based on my expertise as a technical recruiter as well as an author.
Is A Career Coach a Good Resume Consultant? Probably Not Sun, 6 Mar 2011 11:05:36 -0800 Conquent I got a request from a reader of my column to see if I had any contacts in San Diego that could help her with both resume and career coaching. By the time she and I had finished evaluating what she was looking for, she had found a “great career coach” that was also helping her revamp her resume. I told her to please make sure that her coach has recent *recruiting experience* in the last six to seven years to make sure her resume is advice is current.

I am saying this because so many people turn to career coaches for all things job related, and unless they have experience with Applicant Tracking Systems and complex Boolean searches, coupled with an understanding of federal laws from the OFCCP, chances are they are giving *outdated* advice. Well-intentioned, but definitely not up to what is going on in today’s world of recruiting including compliance issues that have literally changed the way candidates are evaluated, and our tools/technology shifts in the last decade.

Here is the bottom line. I, as a recruiter, can give some career coaching. I can help a candidate look at their skills and education and suggest potential career avenues and the companies and industries that may be hiring, and what I know near-future trends are. But if someone needs a true life coach, someone to help them with a holistic approach to their integrated career/life, then I’m probably not qualified. (I know people who are.) By the same token, a career coach who has not been a recent *recruiter* and not intimately familiar with all facets of the job is not generally qualified to give advice on resume construction.

So please, when you are looking for career transition advice, ask *experts*.
Your Past Follows You Fri, 8 Apr 2011 13:12:43 -0800 Conquent
Lots of people that are laid off from positions at good companies hope to rejoin the company in the future as the economy picks up and more openings appear. But it's very important to remember: if you were laid off from a position, there was a reason why. It could just be that you were one of several X's in your division and the company demanded that managers cut 55% of the X's in the group. Or, it could be that your performance, while acceptable, wasn't stellar.

Before you reapply at your old company, think about your last 1-2 performance reviews. Just because legally you are eligible for rehire doesn't mean that you will *be* rehired. Do recruiters and hiring managers check your past performance with the company? You bet your sweet button they do.

There are a several large organizations in the Seattle area that are desirable employers; many of them have downsized over the years here or there. And although oftn prior work experience is desirable, if a candidate had a lackluster or poor performance history, not all the amazing projects they worked on since, will change an employer from being risk averse to a known (documented) quantity to being willing to have to justify to senior management the decision to hire a "known" poor performer.

In addition to your documented performance history, there is also your reputation, based upon your actions and treatment of former co-workers, many of whom may have stayed with (or kept in contact with) the company. "Blackballing" can be based on badmouthing and politicking, and unfortunately is difficult to prove. I was recently having this conversation with a former coworker, who had found out that someone she had worked with was bad-mouthing her.

The first situation is pretty much impossible to overcome. You just have to deal with it and move on. In the second situation, you may be able to do some damage control if you still have friends and colleagues willing to vouch for you and that may be aware of your work and the person bearing the grudge, and why they may be speaking out against you. (Jealousy, feels threatened, personal issues spilling over into work? I know folks that fall into all these categories.)

Be realistic, and realize that just because you *want* to go back, you may not be welcome. If you do really feel that you are the right fit for the company, then work your hardest to become a recognized expert in your field so that they will come courting *you*. ]]>
Industry Tradeshows for Job Seekers Sat, 23 Apr 2011 09:19:22 -0800 Conquent
Almost every industry has at least one professional association that is a connector for companies, customers, and professionals. Tradeshows are generally set up to for sales opportunities. Vendors that make products or provide services set up booths to companies in the industry that use those products/services. Often is the latest iteration of their product, or something new.

A conference is generally a series of presenters for education purposes, where attendees learn new skills or information in their industry. Conferences usually have a lot more employment opportunities, but are generally much more expensive than tradeshows.

When you do attempt to go to a tradeshow for the purpose of job seeking and networking, it is absolutely vital that you remember that this is a sales event. The vendors are there to market and sell to potential customers. They are not there to recruit new employees. To effectively use this strategy you have to at least research the company enough to know what they sell so that you can strike up a conversation with the professional manning the booth at the show. The object of attending a show should be to research who has new products on the market and to gain contact information (ie business cards) for *future* networking (think LinkedIn).

So I asked my acquaintance for some tips and tricks for his foray into the tradeshow, and below are his suggestions.

Many careers involve trade shows. These trade shows have a lot going on- people selling and buying, networking, and of course, folks looking for a gig. Carry a lot of business cards, and wear extra padding in shoes. I recommend a small backpack, something that you can sling over your shoulder. Keep flexible- the company that laid you off has laid off a resource. Other companies may know this- you knew all of X's customers, dealers, providers, etc. etc. That is potentially valuable to one of their competitors. You can't throw X to the wolves, but you can say- "I know that market REALLY well" and I think I can help you access it. Likewise, be flexible- carry a nice personal card, carry a consulting company card, etc. (Look at what your various talents are- and make a card accordingly- marketing, training, freelance tech support, systems integration, etc. Also be willing to think out of the box (I should have had storytelling cards with me). Also, a show is a great place to bring yourself back up to speed on who is doing what, and learning about trends, and new products, etc. Since you no longer work for X, you might get more intel than when you were a company man. And all the folks at the show want to know what happend at X- don't burn them, but you can say- "I'm sure it was just the economy, etc."

Finally, if you've been around for a while, you'll see many people you used to work with. Don't underestimate yourself- get their cards, and be straight- "I'm consulting and looking for a steady gig." Chances are, if you were'nt a flake, and are an asset- they might be able to turn you on to some leads. Better yet, is when they walk you over and make the introduction. Get business cards from everyone. After you walk away from the booth, any key ones, write a note on it, or put a sticky on it, with a few follow up notes. 5 days later, that will be crucial for your at home follow up. Also, don't be afraid to pimp yourself out to companies trying to break into the american markets-a good consulting gig could be a useful thing- you can look at your market from another perspective (outside in) and possibly help hone a potentially hot product, that may have some traction.

Trade shows are a good place to do market research. A company looking at hiring you is going to be a lot more impressed when you can talk about all the pro's and con's of the competition, and how you might be able to help them excel. ]]>
Transferable Skills And Your Resume Fri, 13 May 2011 21:24:39 -0800 Conquent
I think people have a misunderstanding of what a transferable skill is and how to portray it on a resume. A professional skill is something related to your job/career or industry that can be seen as an asset to take to another job or industry. A common example is people management. If you have learned how to manage a staff, including both formal development and training and also on-the-job experience (basically because you have *done* it), that is something quantifiable that you can demonstrate easily on a resume. The key to this example for your resume is that it is *quantifiable*. You can tell when, how many, what kind, and how your successful performance was measured and rewarded.

Many "soft skills" are considered transferable skills. And while this is true, you have to remember what a recruiter and hiring manager are looking for: solid, detailed examples of what you bring to the table *as an employee in a specific job*. While a job description often lists specific soft skills as desirable or even necessary for a successful candidate, that does not mean it is either appropriate or even advisable for those raw skills to be considered part of your skill set on your resume as stand-alone details.

For example, let's say a job description calls for strong organizational skills. This should not be taken to mean that this is a key word that I, as a recruiter, am going to use in my candidate search and evaluation process. What I am going to look for are detailed examples of projects, positions, and accomplishments which demonstrate that you possess this skill.

Let's say you are an administrative professional. To show me your organizational skills, I will look for action verbs in context with your job history such as "plan" and "execute". I'll expect to see projects or functions such as calendar management, event planning, budget and expense reporting. The key is to give me a picture of those experiences and responsibilities on the job that require you to have organizational skills to succeed and excel in your profession.

When you are looking at job descriptions, be very conscious of specifics. If a job description mentions something that is as applicable to how you manage your personal/home life as it is to your job, chances are it is concept that you need to identify with very concrete and detailed examples to illustrate them. "Good communication skills" are as crucial in how you deal with your spouse or partner as they are to how you handle your business relationships with your manager and colleagues. But the situations in which you exercise those skills and navigate misunderstandings or conflict are vastly different.

I've said it before but it bears repeating: show, don't tell.

Rude Candidates Wed, 18 May 2011 17:53:08 -0800 Conquent
I don't think most candidates know how much time goes into scheduling interviews. The hiring manager provides the recruiter with a list of interviewers and alternates for a given position, usually 3-5 people. Either the recruiter or if s/he is lucky enough the recruiting coordinator/admin then spends several *hours* trying to build an interview loop based on the candidate's availability and all the interviewers. Usually this is done with Outlook.

Then the hiring manager will send out an email that all the interviewers read, with the information on what we are considering the candidate for, any feedback from phone screens, and asks each interviewer to read the resume, the notes, and then formulate questions to address specific competencies or past history. And keep in mind that this usually happens for *several candidates for each position.*

The reason a position is usually open is either because someone has left, or the business is growing enough to justify additional people resources. That means that until the opening is filled, everyone on the team is pulling a significant additional portion of additional responsibitities over and above normal. And then they take out an extra hour or two for *each candidate* in the form of preparation, interview, and then feedback.

So don't be a rude candidate. Don't wait until the last minute to cancel an interview. Or better yet, even if you have an offer in hand, go to the interview and see if you may have a better opportunity to compare.

The Reverse-Chronologic Resume (template) Thu, 26 May 2011 10:33:23 -0800 Conquent
Some things to keep in mind. 1) Objectives are relatively passe. A short summary of qualifications is better. This can be a paragraph about you and your skill set and what you are looking for. It should also list (generally in bullet points) your relevant industry skill such as classes (I've got plenty of entries on what is appropriate for new grads on your resume) or computer programs you are proficient with. If you are out of school *with a degree* for less than a year or in progress (ie you are still taking classes toward it), your education goes at the top after your summary. This section should take up no more than 1/4-1/3 of the top section of the first page. If you are taking a break from school or have not finished your degree, it goes at the end of your resume before the interests/affiliations section.

After the "who am I" section, launch into your experience. Start with your current/most recent job. Include the company name, location, your dates of employment, title, *a short description of the company (including industry and size* if it isn't self-explanatory or a "household" name), an overview of your "roles and responsibilities" as it relates to the job/s you are applying for, and any accomplishments in the role. Finally, additional activities should be included after your work history. This includes professional affiliations, social/civic activities and volunteering. (See my entry on what to not/use for this area.)

City/state of residence (street address not necessary)

Jane Doe
425-555-1212 /
Marysville, WA

Professional Summary:

Recent college graduate with a Bachelor of Business with an HR concentration. Four years of retail customer service and office administration including: cashiering, sales, stocking and merchandizing; reception (10 incoming lines with up to 50 extensions) and conference room scheduling; filing, mailing, faxing, preparing powerpoint presentations, Word documents and Excel spreadsheets.

PC skills: Windows-based POS; Mac OSX; Microsoft Office for Mac (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook); internet savvy

Education: University of Washington, Seattle WA
Bachelor's of Business Administration with an HR concentration - May 2011


Cascade Clinic
Bellingham, WA
Intern in patient billing services - January-April 2011
Cascade Clinic is a 15-physician practice for low income families.
Responsible for setting up files, helping the billing manager with monthly Medicare/Medicare billing. Helped improve the billing cycle from two weeks to four days.

Clutterbuck Consulting
File Clerk, Administrative Support - May-August 2010
Clutterbuck Consulting provides outsourced Human Resources for realtors in the Pacific Northwest. I was responsible for converting all paper files more than three years old into digital files, as well as providing lunch support for the receptionist and one of the office administrators. During my tenure I decreased the paper load by over 12K files.

Seattle, WA
Summer Associate (floating) May-August 2010, 2009
Work 20 hours a week at the Nordstrom flagship store in downtown Seattle during the summer in various departments in the evenings and weekends. Cashiering, customer service, merchandizing.

UW Women's Soccer Team - 2008-2011
President of the Human Resources Student Activities Council - 2010-2011
Grads: That All-Important First Impression Fri, 10 Jun 2011 13:26:26 -0800 Conquent
I told him that no, we don't generally hire part-time summer help. (We are a technology company.) I did mention that we had some internships opening up and asked him what his major was, and he said "Sociology".

Then I inquired what he wanted to do in the work world when he got out of school, and his response? "I'm not sure." I gave him a few ideas about what someone with a Sociology degree might be interested in, then headed out.

My thoughts about this encounter? First, I felt really sorry for him. He's obviously in school with absolutely no idea what he wants to do when he gets out. But right after that, I realized what a bad impression he had just made on me, especially after I spent 90 minutes with three other panel members hammering home that when it comes to interviewing and preparing to look for a job (be it a summer job, an internship, or your first professional position out of college), you need to do your homework and remember that you have one chance to make a first impression.

The world of recruiting runs at a very fast pace. Especially as we are still in a recession with high unemployment, I have many more candidates apply for every job than I have positions. And to be honest, amongst ourselves one of the frequent comments we make when reading a resume is, "did they even read the job description?" Seriously. It still boggles the mind how many people apply to jobs for which they are not qualified. Just as an example, I have two web development intern positions open right now, and both of them require either course/project work or employment experience with a programming language called Ajax, and *demonstrated* (as in portfolio piece, website, or coding sample) proficiency with the tools and type of work we are hiring for. Look, if you have never coded a webpage in your life, just because you are getting a computer science degree that doesn't make you a good candidate for a web developer internship. And my hiring managers would rather go without an intern than try and fit a square peg into a round hole. And your application history with a particular company *stays in the system*. If, three years from now you apply for a different job, and I go in and see how you applied for an internship in 2011 that you were not qualified for, it does tell me a story. And not a very positive one.

So what kind of an impression are you making? ]]>
Storytelling and the Job Seeker Thu, 23 Jun 2011 09:29:55 -0800 Conquent
Storytelling and the Business World

When I tell folks that I am a professional storyteller, I often see a quizzical look on their faces. For folks who have not heard of someone who tells stories for a living, they often assume that I read books to children. Or, possibly, assume that I dress up and tell stories at renaissance faires and the like. Okay, I’m guilty of the latter- but it IS a paying gig!

But storytelling has a wide variety of uses, and it is being used all around us. If you learn how to tell stories, it can be a powerfully effective tool in your bag of tricks. Storytelling is an ancient art-form. It even predates the written word. In fact, a great deal of our early history, folklore, myths, legends, and more, were preserved and carried forward by the spoken word. And many of our dominant world belief systems made extensive use of the art of storytelling to get their messages across. I find that a little ironic, now that I see titles in the business world like “Product Evangelist” and “Multi-Media Storyteller”.

But the fact is, that some of the worlds most important people were powerful storytellers. From Abraham Lincoln, Will Rogers, Mark Twain, to Jesus of Nazareth, Buddha, Albert Einstein, and thousands of others, they all knew how to use a powerful tool- How to get their message across,effectively using storytelling. And their ideas and words are still resonating today!

Storytelling is an art form that anyone can use, but it can take a lifetime to master. In it's spoken form, there are a lot of aspects and techniques that can be used.. A good storyteller knows how to craft and choose a good story, how to use meta-language (physical cues) and a variety of speaking techniques to captivate an audience. A good story is a vehicle that brings ideas, interesting knowledge, and speaks to relevance. With a good story, a good teller will engage an audience, and encourage them to visualize, and to empathize. And in a world where we are literally being inundated with data, this will be a message that is evocative and relevant that will stand out, and capture mind-share. So being a good storyteller means you know how to communicate effectively, and how to recognize a good story when you see one!

So, how do I use storytelling in my business life?

Here are just some of the potential uses!

Creating and identifying marketing strategies.- The best branding is great storytelling!

Identifying and focusing a company’s core values

Developing your company goals and strategies.

Teaching effective communication to your sales force- creating a winning story.

Building bridges between your customer’s and your company.

Selling yourself- or your product, effectively

Inspiring your business, and encouraging creativity

Be better at being interviewed, or at interviewing.

Turbo-charging your training, and transmitting of values.

If you have questions, I am glad to offer what advice I can-

Our next installment- “Hollywood owes us!"

True Thomas is a professional Storyteller, creative coach and trainer.

He tells stories everywhere from campfires to boardrooms, and he believes in the power of storytelling, and that the right story can change the world. ]]>
Is Your First Impression Your Last Chance? Tue, 28 Jun 2011 12:24:31 -0800 Conquent
Then there was the gentleman that was dressed nicely and started off the meeting well. But then he went into a story about his health issues the last year, and told me that he has several revenue streams, so he's looking for something to challenge him, not because he "needs the money". OK, this is someone with too much drama in his life. And this was BEFORE he even offered me his resume. He's been unemployed for the last couple of years, and he WAY over shared, to the point where red flags were going off.

I had a phone screen with someone last week and at the end of the conversation, she started asking me how she could get her foot in the door at another company I have worked with. This doesn't exactly give the impression that my job is of interest to you, and indicates a low emotional quotient.

It bears repeating: first impressions do last. ]]>
Google+ Scares Me Mon, 11 Jul 2011 17:35:35 -0800 Conquent
11.1 You retain copyright and any other rights you already hold in Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services. This license is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

11.2 You agree that this license includes a right for Google to make such Content available to other companies, organizations or individuals with whom Google has relationships for the provision of syndicated services, and to use such Content in connection with the provision of those services.

11.3 You understand that Google, in performing the required technical steps to provide the Services to our users, may (a) transmit or distribute your Content over various public networks and in various media; and (b) make such changes to your Content as are necessary to conform and adapt that Content to the technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services or media. You agree that this license shall permit Google to take these actions.

11.4 You confirm and warrant to Google that you have all the rights, power and authority necessary to grant the above license.

Do you read that? You grant Google *in perpetuity* (translation: forever and a day) the rights to any content you post. In addition, you grant them the right to disseminate or share said content with any other companies or organizations Google deems should have it.

OK, this means that your privacy is gone. Your content is public, whether you want it to be or not.

So, don't be send me an invite. I won't be joining you anytime soon. ]]>
Your Professional Online Persona - The Photo Tue, 12 Jul 2011 08:29:13 -0800 Conquent
I didn't have a good head shot, and the paper wasn't adamant on a professional studio version. They were fine with an outdoor photo, so a friend and I that used to be a professional photographer went out on a photo shoot. The photo you see above is one of the results. (I just had an updated shoot with a photographer from the paper and that is now my online photo; they like to update them every year.)

Now, a photo is a big no-no on your resume. But if you are using online media to establish yourself as a professional, a nice head shot is more than acceptable. There are a few caveats to consider. If you are worried about ageism and know you look older than your age and don't want to promote that, don't worry about a photo. If you are using an online handle and don't want people to know you by face (maybe you have been the victim of an identity theft or a stalker) of course you don't want to promote yourself.

If you do choose to use a photo, make sure that it is a clear photo and *relatively recent* (not something from twenty years that for Facebook or other social sites if you aren't linking said personas). You should be the focus of the photo, not the background. It should be in focus. It can be color or black and white, and there is nothing wrong with retouching it with Photoshop or another editing tool. Keep it in various sizes so that you can use it to create a continuity to your online profile (for example, my shot above is also on my LinkedIn profile.) Make sure that it is on the professional side (i. e. don't have a lollipop or a cigarette dangling from your lips or wearing Mardi Gras face paint.)

I follow Intern Queen, and was really shocked to see this from one of her college ambassadors, which for me ruined the professional tenor of the otherwise good blog:

<img src=>

I mean, really, a young woman in college didn't have any other photos of herself than one cut in half with someone else's arm around her? Really? (I made a comment to that effect on the IQ FB posting.) She couldn't have someone grab her phone to take a better shot? It totally damages her professional credibility in my book. Because, although her *audience* is the college crowd, when she is looking for internships or a FT job, this is going to be something she can point to as professional experience, and recruiters and hiring managers are *going* to look. And be unimpressed when the first thing they see is that photo.

Job Requirements and the Myth Of The Hidden Job Market Fri, 5 Aug 2011 09:07:17 -0800 Conquent
In the case of Immigration, any company that sponsors visas (*generally* H1-B, E3 or NAFTA TN categories) has to prove to the US Immigration that those employees that they *are* sponsoring are meeting the company and industry standard job titles and job descriptions, and that no US citizens or permanent residents (Green Card holders) are available to fill those roles. Job descriptions must include educational requirements as well as the number of years of experience in the job category. Companies need to be consistent across the board when considering candidates for these positions or they can potentially lose their ability to sponsor those employees. Another fact about these requirements is that open jobs must legally be advertised if a company is considering external applicants.

I have not worked in *any* company in the last six years that does not have all their open positions (meaning positions for which they are actively recruiting external candidates) on their corporate website. So the "hidden job market" is a myth.

It's absolutely vital to understand that the way recruiters identify candidates is through keyword searching on resumes, which is why it is so *vitally important* to use them effectively and to use a reverse chronological resume so that recruiters and hiring managers can match your skill set to your job history. It's also the reason why outdated skills are going to be of little value to you in your job hunt. If you are looking to transition back into a career track or industry, try doing volunteer work to help you renew those skills and to give your resume a boost in that direction. Make sure when you are updating your resume that you put volunteer information prominently in your career section. To do this, instead of using "Employment", use "Professional" or "Relevant" Experience as your header. Write it exactly as you would a job entry, and be sure to update your summary/executive summary appropriately. Volunteering is becoming a more vital way of getting experience every day.
Networking Mon, 15 Aug 2011 15:35:20 -0800 Conquent
I taught two tracks on using volunteer experience in our group for resume content and networking. I asked everyone in both class tracks "how many of you know the title and companies where your fellow volunteers work?" I was greeted with a few blank looks.

When you volunteer with someone, you *work* with them. They know your strengths and work ethic. They are also a valuable resource for job seeking. As a recruiter, one of the first things I ask when I meet someone is about their careers/jobs. It's natural for me in my profession. But it is also relevant for anyone that is job seeking.

But it isn't just your volunteer organizations. Your 3rd grader's teacher may be married to the CFO of a local company looking for an Accounting Manager. Your yoga instructor may have a roommate that is a manager at an auto parts store looking for a sales associate. My point is, "networking" isn't about asking for a job. It's about building your resource pool, and getting to know the people around you and how you can benefit each other. And that is a key concept: benefiting EACH OTHER. It isn't just recruiters that know who's hiring, it's also anyone that is working.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the single most effective way into any organization is employee referrals. So get to know the employees of target companies you are interested in working for. ]]>
Social Media Employment Background Checks-Here And Real Wed, 31 Aug 2011 10:18:01 -0800 Conquent,2817,2387315,00.asp

What does this mean to the average job seeker? More than your realize. If you read the article, toward the end it gives examples about people losing a job offer or being out of the running for a job (ie someone that joined a Facebook group "I shouldn't have to press 1 for English" was labeled a racist.)

The largest search engine is Google. Think about the latest craze to join Google+. Under the Terms and Condition's of Google+ user agreement, you give Google access to anything you post on the site *in perpetuity* and agree to allow them to share that information with anyone they partner with (usually we think of advertisers, but I see Social Intelligence as a huge customer). They also have some strict identity strictures, such as anyone registering must use their "real" name and information. Put that together, and you are just opening yourself up for scrutiny. This is why it is so vitally important to guard your online persona as carefully as possible.

Part of my job is to find candidates. There are a large number of websites that can pull up archived information if a person has enough background information to actually create a profile for you. My favorites include,, and Google itself.

Just because you delete something off of a site doesn't mean that it is deleted permanently off the internet. There are snapshots of content all over the place. Try running a Google search for anything. When the results come back, hit the blue hyperlink that says "Cached". It will bring up information that is stored on a server that is a snapshot of the original, which may no longer exist. Keep all this in mind when you are joining online groups, posting comments with your real name, and uploading photos of yourself that you might not want a potential employer to see. In the US, there are a lot of questions a recruiter cannot legally ask you such as marital status, ethnicity, religion, etc. But if you are on Facebook and you join the group "Pakistani Muslim Dating Connector" you've given that information away for a company like Social Intelligence to find.

Privacy online does not exist anymore. All we can do is try and safeguard our own profiles as much as possible by being smart and knowing the risks inherent in sharing too much.

Overcoming GenY Stereotypes Fri, 23 Sep 2011 07:53:10 -0800 Conquent
First off, I want to be transparent.

I’m a member of GenX.

That being said, my own career and resume are much more reflective of current GenY statistics, something which has actually helped *me* professionally so I tend to be more more forgiving of short work stints although this is not the norm.

I recruit in the technology sector, which is generally much more in “tune” with the younger workforce.

But there are some stereotypes about GenY that are based on truisms that are giving young professionals a bad rap.
4 Ugly stereotypes about Gen-Y job seekers
1) Rude

If you are applying to an established company, chances are good you will be going through a formal application process. This generally means applying online. This process is uniform and required so that all candidates are considered as objectively as possible, so trying to circumvent the process only gives recruiters and hiring managers a reason to start off with a bad impression.

It may seem cumbersome, but if you are looking for someone else to pay you, just play by their rules.

In the last three months, my company has been hiring interns and I cannot tell you how shocked my hiring managers and my recruiting colleagues are at the rudeness of candidates that we have scheduled for interviews.

Emailing us hours before an interview loop is scheduled to start and saying you’ve taken another job is unprofessional. It’s happened several times with my company in the last few months, and I’m hearing similar stories throughout the recruiting community.

At the very least, you should give a potential employer the courtesy of advance notice; time that busy professionals carve out to meet with candidates means that other work-related meetings cannot occur.

Even better, go on the interviews even if you have another offer in hand; it never hurts to have more than one offer.
2) Lacks Critical Thinking Skills and Self-Motivation

I’ve been seeing a couple of trends in phone screens and interviews the last few years that are leading companies to “no hire” what appear to be great candidates.

Most companies are looking for highly self-motivated and driven professionals. When I was at Microsoft, I was screening recent MBA candidates, and all-too often I heard them say that they are looking for “mentoring” from the organization that hires them.

It’s vital for GenY professionals to understand the difference between “the opportunity to be mentored” and a formal, structured, mentorship program, sponsored and run by Human Resources.

I don’t know of any company that doesn’t encourage their employees to establish a relationship with other, more experienced leaders and to learn and grow. But in a company that values self-motivation, saying you are looking for “mentorship” sends the impression that you are, quite honestly, looking for someone else to tell you what, when, and how to grow your career. And if you cannot do that yourself, you come across as lacking critical thinking skills and indecisive.

Given how ambitious most GenY’ers are, this is a major paradox.

I also have found that in interviews, many candidates talk about the successes and experiences of collaborative projects they have worked on. It’s vital for candidates to remember that they are being considered *individually*, not as a group. Interviewers want to know about you and your contributions and successes, not your teammates.
3) Commitment-phobic and Lazy

The average GenY professional statistically stays at jobs less than two years. Whatever the reasons, this gives the impression that you are only interested in money or the “cool factor”; you seem to be someone with either a short attention span or that doesn’t care about what they are doing enough to become invested in your career and employer.

It takes a lot of time to recruit, hire, and train one employee, so longevity is huge to employers.

You need to seriously think about your motivations and what you are looking for. It starts with your resume, and moves into your interview skills.

I mentioned earlier that I have a lot of short stints on my resume; in my case, it is because I contracted for a long time at Microsoft, where there is a 1-year cap on each contract. I’ve also had the same part-time job for over nine years. Put the two together, and I can show a steady history of commitment and growth. This is what employers are looking for.
4) Unrealistic Expectations

Finally, probably the most damaging stereotype is that of being both lazy and entitled. They go hand in hand.

Most companies have processes in place that are proven successful over the long haul. While having great ideas to contribute is always positive, going into a new job and convinced that you know the way to overhaul the company in the first three months isn’t practical.

Be patient, get to know the processes and the business landscape and don’t be shy about questioning them (Why? What? Who? When?). Do it respectfully, and if you can make a business case supporting your ideas for process improvements, start with the appropriate channels (generally your manager).

Leaders want improvement, but they want it to be backed by data as to how it positively impacts the bottom line.

When you are interviewing, keep this firmly in the back of your mind when you are answering “tell me about a time when” questions. The truth is, in a few years, you’ll be in management and will start to make as many changes as you want and the rest of the world will be able to watch in amazement.
True stories: where Gen-Y stereotypes come from

I sent a “shout out” to my recruiting community for additional feedback and experiences. Below is a response sent to me by a fellow recruiter just finishing up interviewing interns for a Fortune 100 company.

This is an object lesson in why these stereotypes exist:

Not showing up and calling days after the scheduled interview asking to reschedule. Typical excuses are food poisoning and grandmother died.

Showing up late to the interview and not apologizing.

Bringing family members with you to the interview including siblings. Family members not being respectful of the fact this is a place of employment.

Dressing inappropriately for the interview (wearing jeans with holes in them, low cut blouses’, flip-flops), overwhelming smells of smoke and or perfume or cologne, chewing gum.

Not having a properly formatted resume – pasting job descriptions into the resume vs. showcasing the value and contributions they have provided.

Sense of entitlement: I have a degree, why are you not moving forward with me?

Excessive calls to the recruiter asking for status updates, decision status etc. Multiple calls within a week and emails.

Not being respectful of a recruiter’s time: rambling on about personal problems or trying to sell you on why they should have the job, unable to take no for answer.

Unrealistic salary expectations: “I have a degree therefore you should pay me this amount” even though they do not have the actual work experience.

Unrealistic work experience: School projects do not necessarily translate into actual work experience

Lack of follow-up when action is requested or required from the applicant

Coming to the interview unprepared: application, not researching the company

Job hopping: boredom, dissatisfaction with their manager

Not acknowledging team work vs. individual collaboration. In most jobs we work with a variety of team members and to position yourself and the sole contributor doesn’t showcase your ability to work in a cross functional manner that most employers are looking for. And in some cases it comes off as bragging about your contributions.

If you can act professionally and create a great first impression, you have a chance to overcome the stereotypes that are perpetrated by your peers, and blow your competition out of the water

Read more at:
Experience + MBA + Experience=Executive Tue, 11 Oct 2011 19:49:10 -0800 Conquent
Here in Seattle, there are ads on the bus for a local Technical MBA program. It starts with a point that says "Technologist" then it has a line that says "18 months ROI" and at the end it has a picture that says "Technology Strategist". This ad makes me so angry because of the blatantly false advertising. Getting an MBA isn't going to miraculously change you into a "strategist". That takes several years of experience (which ten years as an Architect would qualify as). It's a fallacy to believe that getting an advanced degree is automatically going to guarantee you a job as a leader in whatever industry you are entering, unless of course you open your own business.

I'm not saying that advanced degrees aren't worthwhile or that they don't open doors. Education is rarely a bad thing. And if one is in business and hopes to join management and "climb the ladder" as it were, an MBA is certainly helpful and can give you insight into business from several different angles; I've recruited for senior positions where an MBA is a hard requirement. But your education needs to be leveraged in tandem with *related work experience* to be of great value. ]]>
Class of 2012: Nurture Relationships and Build A Network NOW Wed, 19 Oct 2011 16:10:54 -0800 Conquent
Those companies that you meet via your campus career center? They have what is called a campus recruiting process. Campus recruiting teams start hiring for candidates starting a good six-eight months out. Their organizations have built out what is called headcount (anticipating future hiring needs by budget and by actual future openings) to include the new hires fresh out of school (both undergrad and graduate students.) These are usually larger organizations that have robust businesses and the resources to train, onboard and mentor new graduates. And believe me, new graduates are a huge investment of resources for any organization beyond just "getting you in the door." You lack business savvy in addition to the training needed for your immediate job. It isn't that you aren't a valuable employee, it's just that you need to learn about business as well as the job for which you are hired. Your education has given you *theoretical knowledge* which is geared for a perfect work situation, which rarely exists. Those of you with internships are a bit ahead of the curve, but two or three months in one job still isn't the same as a seasoned employee with real-world experience in the business world (or non-profit, or academic or healthcare or whatever industry you are joining.)

It's generally a waste of time for you to apply for positions you cannot start for well over two or three business quarters. And here is why. When my company opens a new job, it's because there is an immediate need, either through attrition (someone left the job or team) or through organized headcount forecasting. And truthfully, that means we need someone to start in weeks, not months. And we need someone to hit the ground running, someone who can pick up the nuances of the organization's culture and the mechanics of the job they are hired for in about 90 days or less.

So what *should* you be doing now?

First off, get an email address other than your "" account. Gmail, Yahoo, Live/Hotmail, whatever; keep it professional, not cutesy and please make sure your full name shows in the "From" field. Create a robust resume and LinkedIn profile (and upload your resume to your profile). If you haven't done so, you should be getting at least one internship under your belt, and getting glowing references from both your manager and your co-workers; you should stay in touch with them after you return to school. Send them LinkedIn invitations and get recommendations from them! About 3 months before you are ready to start work (February, March), circle back with them and ask about entry-level openings in their company *and if they know of any other companies in the industry hiring entry level professionals*. Most people keep at least a few ties to former colleagues and companies, and they will occasionally ask for candidates or refer other great people.

You should be working with your career center to identify companies that have hired from your school in the past and creating a list of target companies. And go back further than just the last 3-4 years. Maybe a company used to come every spring but was hard hit with the recession or was bought by a larger organization. Go back five to ten years. Use LinkedIn to reference recruiters for those companies now. Not only that, if you have met any recruiters in the last few years, contact them. I've spoken on four panels *this year* around Seattle, and critiqued resumes at two other schools. I have given my contact info to almost all the students that have asked for it, and connected up with them on LinkedIn. I may not have a job for them, but I am certainly happy to forward requests for introductions to other recruiters or professionals in my network.

Join professional organizations in your field/industry, and start going to meetings. Take business cards (you can get cheap professional ones on VistaPrint, or even at FedexOffice, Home Depot or Staples) with you and start meeting people in your industry. Schedule informational interviews with professionals in the job you think you are interested in.

Ask your professors, coaches, and advisers if they know anyone at all in xyz industry, and if so would they be willing to introduce you via email? Then do the same with your parents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, cousins, and neighbors. Think of the professions where people *meet other people*. Bartenders, real estate agents, school parents that are sports coaches, ministers/priests/rabbis, hair dressers or barbers, doctors, dentists, attorneys, cab drivers, hotel managers, musicians, small store/cafe/restaurant owners, event planners including wedding coordinators. Anyone that has *clients or customers* knows people and has a network you can tap into.

This is the time for you to set the stage for contacting the right people *at the right time*. Whatever you do, don't wait until three weeks before you start you graduate to start your job search, or you will still be looking this time next year. And please, stop applying for jobs you cannot start soon. ]]>
Impending Layoff Preparation List Wed, 9 Nov 2011 13:33:57 -0800 Conquent
The most obvious step people think of is "update your resume". That's preparation 101. Yes, having your resume in order is key, but there are so many other things to do *while you are still employed* if you have any inkling that layoffs are in the wind.

1) Get LinkedIn recommendations *now* from managers, co-workers, vendors, business partners, etc. Once layoffs occur, many companies have policies against this.

2) Start building your job search strategy. This includes identifying companies/organizations you are interested in potentially joining, or that you know may have the contacts to help you in your search.

3) Start reaching out to known professional industry contacts. This might include sales folks, HR/recruiting types, association members that you interact with at those mixers or conferences; former managers or colleagues that have left the company in the last couple of years.

4) Build your reputation (also known as your "professional brand"). This is where Twitter, LinkedIn, online discussion groups/forums, and blogging all come in. There are two ways of doing this: asking thoughtful questions, and answering or commenting on online content. I was sitting in a staffing meeting with my team last week, and we were going over the results of the LinkedIn Talent conference my manager had attended. One of the slides he brought up had to do with LinkedIn. On the slide, he had "Ask Kristen about this; she's got lots of expert ratings". It goes beyond just showing your knowledge, it is also one of the best *free* ways to build your network with offline conversations. Since LinkedIn made it possible for anyone to publish an article/blog, and you can share said article with anyone on any social channel, this is a great way to build credibility.

If you don't have one, start a professional blog, and if you do have one, be religious not only about posting there, but also disseminating that information: on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter as status updates. Read online articles and blogs from other folks, and make thoughtful comments, especially if you disagree with anything they have to say, but be willing to support your dissent with "and here's why" statements.

What you are doing is creating your own PR for the aggregated masses that are interested in the subjects you are expounding upon. (Like reading a blog on job seeking from a successful recruiter ;)

5) Start actively trying to be a speaker on industry panels, and be a resource for quotes in publications. How do you do that? Become friends with freelance reporters/journalists; they are always looking for sources. I did that and it landed me a year+ long gig as a columnist for the Seattle Times. I met my current manager when we both spoke together on a recruiting panel six years ago. We exchanged contact info, stayed in touch, and he actively pursued me when he started managing a tech recruiting team.

6) Start networking with non-industry professionals, and that means people like neighbors, service providers, those people that may yield unexpected leads for you.

Hopefully this list will help you prepare a little bit. It is good to do many of these things consistently throughout your career, but getting started before you are laid off can help mitigate some of the fallout.

Tips for Unemployed Veterans Fri, 11 Nov 2011 15:36:01 -0800 Conquent
1) Your resume needs to be in corporate-speak, not military jargon. 90% of the resumes I see from veterans list a bunch of military acronyms and terms that have absolutely no meaning to me. You need to work on getting your resume ready for the civilian world. And that means you need to talk to people that have experience in both worlds and can help you translate your experiences appropriately. Most state unemployment support offices have a liaison or specialist of some kind that can help you with this for free. You can also use LinkedIn and other business communities to find civilian recruiters that have military experience in their backgrounds and can help you. Most of them are happy to donate their time to a fellow veteran.

2) Attitudinal Changes. I'm not trying to tell you that your attitude is bad or wrong, but it is different and to join the civilian world, you need to make an adjustment in your thinking in how you interact with other people. When you are interviewing, you have to remember that although you come from a very structured environment where life or death decisions depend upon following orders, a strict changing of command and established protocols, in the civilian world employers are generally looking for people that think for themselves and understand how to prioritize depending on a much different set of circumstances, and that very very few decisions you are going to make will result in a life or death situation outside of specific industries (like health care).

3) Leadership in the corporate world is very different than leadership in the military. People that are leaders in the civilian world don't expect instant obedience to every decision, and in fact they look for employees that can challenge those decisions and help deliver a better product or service through questioning and respectful disagreement. That isn't to say that you should question everything directly, but it does mean that if you disagree with a leader or a process, you should explore how you might make it better or what a different approach is and then speak up. There are many individuals in management positions that may not be the best leaders, and there are ways for you to work within the organization (such as HR or mentoring outside your direct reporting structure) to address this when it becomes frustrating. When you are interviewing, you need to think of examples of experiences you had that you may not have agreed with or disliked; why you didn't agree with them, and how you might have made changes to the process if you had the chance.

4) Learn to negotiate effectively. You need to know how to compromise and when to give and take (negotiation). Performance expectations are merit-based on an individual level in the corporate world, and the bell-curve is alive and well. "Huh?" you may be thinking to yourself. In the corporate world (a bit less in industries such as health care or any collective bargaining industry), you are judged on your performance in competition with your peers. It isn't a cut-throat competition, but you need remember that although you are part of a group for the outcome of your efforts, you are being judged individually against your coworkers. And when employers are considering you for a job, part of the evaluation process is making sure you are aware of your own worth and can articulate it well to them *against other candidates*.

5) Understanding the value of networking outside the military. There is no doubt whatsoever that the military is one of the strongest professional networks on the planet, but when you are leaving the service, you need to think outside that network and find those people that will have a broader range of contacts. That isn't to say that you should ignore your valuable contacts, but the people you need to be contacting are those with ties to industry and civilian employers. Think of those people that your network knows outside of their military career. For example, maybe the cashier at the PX is married to the manager at the local Costco. Or your Commander's brother coaches a junior league soccer team in Duluth, where your wife wants to move to. That soccer coach is going to know local service providers like realtors and insurance agents, and they in turn are going to have clients that may be able to help you find connections for opportunities in the civilian world. Conversely, you have something in common with a lot of civilian manager right now in a shared military experience, and this is a way for you to form an instant rapport with them. It's the equivalent of belonging to a sorority or fraternity or an alumna of a high school or college. It's an instant bond that generally will make the other person feel good about being able to help another vet.

6) Work hard, play hard, know when to stay and when to go. The military is both a 24x7 job and also very structured in terms of shifts. You are on guard duty from 6 AM to 3 PM, then your time is your own; you are monitoring subs on the second shift, and your attention is 100% focused, then you are off (unless of course you are in a war zone, when you are duty every minute). You *are* the military in terms of conduct at all times. Being in the service isn't a job, it's a lifestyle commitment for as long as your serve. When you go into corporate America, you start a job or a career, and then when you leave your job, you change your role like you change your hat. Your life becomes your own. But here's a fact to understand: very few jobs are not somehow entwined with your everyday life. You may work from 8-5, but you may need to be prepared to stay an hour extra to answer an email and finish a presentation, or give up your evening to attend an industry event. But, by the same token, you can take an extended lunch to go sign closing papers on your new house, or schedule a doctor's appointment into your day. Your life becomes an ebb and flow of intertwined roles. But the one thing that is true regardless: what you do off the clock needs to be done with integrity and a degree of professionalism, and what you do on the clock needs to carry the same passion and conviction that you take with you to your son's baseball game or the barbecue with your folks on Saturday.

It's a tough economy, and there are tons of stories out there about how difficult it is for veterans to find jobs. Part of it is lack of jobs, but I also believe a large part of it is culture shock when leaving the military. Believe it or not, most employers sincerely *want* to hire vets. Some because it's the right thing to do; some because it is mandated by law that employers consider vets and even get tax breaks of some sort for it; others because they have found that military training makes for a great employee. But to hire you, they have to get you in the door and through the vetting process. ]]>
Contact Information for References Fri, 2 Dec 2011 17:35:00 -0800 Conquent
"I was filling out an application for a job and they are requesting not only the phone number of my former supervisors but their e-mail address. What is the typical policy about them contacting former bosses? I was surprised because I thought they could only contact HR to confirm that I worked at a particular company. One person no longer works for a company, but the other two still do work where they are at."

There are two pieces to this question. The first is the actual application (online or paper). This is the legal document that organizations use for EEOC/Affirmative Action tracking. She was asking about the former employers section which includes your title, job duties, supervisor name and title, pay rate, etc.

For the purposes of *employment verification*, you should include the corporate phone number for this area. These days most organizations have fairly strict guidelines about how questions can be answered. Usually, they will confirm (or deny) that Jane Doe worked at XYZ job from A date to B date, was paid $1.23 and is/not eligible for rehire. This is the information you *want* them to have.

But if you provide a former manager/supervisor's contact information, they could contact your current or past manager and ask them questions about you that skirt Human Resources. If it is a current manager that doesn't know you are seeking a new position, obviously this is a bad way to find out. The other reason you don't want to provide direct contact information is often an agency will use it for a sales call. Obviously if they are hiring you for a temporary role, then the company you are coming from has similar roles. Believe me, finding out you gave this contact information to an agency can really annoy a former supervisor, regardless of your positive relationship with them. In the case above, don't worry about whether or not a former manager is no longer with the company.

If you worked a temp job at another company, the information you want to use is the temp company and the name of your recruiter or employee rep as your supervisor, NOT the client company. You can indicate the client company on your resume, but the application should reflect the company that actually issues your paychecks. (Again, this is *legal* document.)

The second type are your business references; these are people that you have asked to attest to your work. These should be the people that will sing your praises to a potential employer and let them know how awesome you are. Business references should be recent (the last 2-5 years) and should include at least one supervisor or manager. If you had an exceptionally good temp experience, you could ask an individual manager if they would be willing to be a reference.

You should ask them what method of contact they prefer (email or phone call), and when you know they will be contacted, let them know that you have used them as a reference. Give them a head's up of what the position is (or general type) so that they can think a bit about what they want to say. These are the same people you might ask to give you LinkedIn recommendations. The question often comes up as to whether or not to provide business references on an online application. I usually tell people that are leery that it is fine to put in the box "References provided upon offer" and then fill in the phone number with something like 425-999-9999 (as this often is a required field.)

I find it helpful to keep a .txt version of my full employment history and references handy. This may or may not be the same as your resume (for example I have a part-time retail job that I used as one of my most recent employers, but isn't on my resume.) You'll want their full mailing address, general telephone number (switchboard or HR line), your title, the month/year to month/year of your employment, your pay rate at hire/separation, manager/supervisor name and title. That way it's easy to copy/paste or print up if you are applying in person via paper application.
Comment on WSJ "No More Resumes" Wed, 25 Jan 2012 10:21:39 -0800 Conquent
<a href="">No More Résumés, Say Some Firms</a>

I wrote a letter to the author and thought I would share it here in case you are getting excited about the prospect of being able to throw your resume away:

----Original Message-----
From: Kristen Fife
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 6:32 PM
To: Silverman, Rachel
Subject: Your article "No More Resumes" on WSJ

I'm a senior recruiter in the Seattle tech market. I read your article, and while I can see how the employers you profiled are trying to connect with "today's" (ie younger, more tech savvy) candidates, there are a number of things which your article did *not* cover from the employer side.

There are several governing bodies and regulations such as EEO, Affirmative Action, OFCCP, USCIS (immigration) and SOX compliance which require a very strict adherence to recruiting standards that employ repeatable, auditable processes that ensure that all candidates are being considered fairly, equally, impartially, and objectively for *each and every position*. In the recruiting world, OFCCP especially has turned our industry upside down in the last 5+ years. Basically, the simplified version of this entails

1) Defining the minimum quantifiable/qualitative qualifications for each position.
2) Developing a single process that makes sure that *each and every candidate is qualified for each and every job based on those minimum quantifiable qualifications*
3) At each step of the process, if a candidate is disqualified, that the reason is objective, quantifiable, and justified.

The processes your outlined in your article are going to give many job seekers unrealistic expectations of job hunting and will create even more divisiveness between recruiters and job seekers. There are some ways to combine "new media" with traditional recruiting processes, but the companies you outlined are not doing so.

If you would like to write a follow-up article I would be happy to be a source; I have been quoted in the WSJ before, as well as the Seattle Times, ABC News, and a host of other publications. (I also had my own employment column on the Seattle Times until October).

Kristen M. Fife, Sr. Recruiter and Sourcing Specialist

(Her response, BTW, was to thank me for my thoughtful comments.)

Some of the issues I, as a recruiter have with the methods that are outlined in this article:

1) As you can see from my response, these employers are not following regulatory-compliant practices. Now, it's very possible that they don't fall under any of the agencies, with the exception of EEOC and Affirmative Action. *It is the law that all candidates must be considered objectively and hired based on qualifications for every job in the US*.

2) Video resumes *NEGATE* objectivity in the initial screening process. Once candidates have been objectively screened, video interviews are fine. This includes Skype, pre-recorded questions/answers. Companies are not required by law to interview anyone to make a hiring decision. It's standard practice, but by no means mandated by law.

3) For most of the other types of compliance I mentioned above, organizations must have a repeatable process that applies the same criteria (the "job description" or requirements) to all candidates. Pre-screening questions are fine if all candidates are given the same questions to answer. In the case of the StickerGiant, as long as the questions adhere to legal requirements as far as non-discrimination and are applied evenly, there is no issue with using that method. IGN's approach was unique, but applied equally across the board and relevant, so was fine.

4) Regarding social media profiles, there is a potential for serious error here. I know for a fact that there are at least 3 "Kristen Fife's" in the US. How do I know that a potential employer is looking at ME as vs. the woman that played the drums in a Japanese band from California? It's the same reason people sometimes have their credit profiles mixed up with someone that has the same name. Not to mention people that choose to use an alias or "nom de plume" for their online activities.

*Companies are opening themselves up to serious lawsuits by using social media profiles as one of the sole determinations of employee screening.

I have always supported some sort of online or media portfolio. There is almost no industry where you cannot create examples of your work efforts to share with potential employers. Having an industry blog is a great way of doing so, and totally appropriate to put on your actual resume/CV. Just make sure that what you are volunteering to share is polished and professional.

Resume Phishing Sun, 12 Feb 2012 13:57:00 -0800 Conquent
Now, below is an example that came across one of my online communities as a "job announcement" (I have redacted information about the individual and company):

Job Description: Hi, I Hope you are doing well. This is with reference to your resume posted on job Portal. I came across your profile and want to let you know about an opportunity we have that I think you might be interested in. We have a following contract opening with our client. Please go through the job description that has been attached below, and if available and interested, please send me your Resume in word format ASAP. (Also, do not forget to send the details that have been asked in the end). Note:- Please ignore this email if you are already working with <company>, Inc Our client or our Recruiters.

Title: Business Development Executive
Duration: Fulltime
Location: Bellevue, WA

Job Description:
The role of Business Development Executive has the following major
1. Build a network of contacts in the operational (manager & director)
levels of the targeted accounts
2. Identify opportunities within that network for sales of value added
consulting, software development, software testing, systems support (e.g.
DBA, Sys Admin, Design, Business & Systems Analysis) and solution visioning.
3. Develop written definitions of client success and satisfaction and
monitor the relationship to ensure highlights are communicated and issues
are processed to resolution
4. Work as part of the delivery team to capture, communicate, value and
position Ramp as the preferred solution provider
5. Work to extend the solution reach within the client
6. Identify longer term strategic changes in the services and
relationship that will add value to the client and Ramp

The BDE will be expected to come to us with a book of contacts that can be
leveraged to build the relationship network. Also required is the
experience to understand the client business model and communicate it to the
rest of the delivery team.

The successful candidate will also need to be able to discuss their ability
-Identify specific sales opportunities for the different types of
-Understand how and when to focus prospect s in the different
responsibility models (responsibility vs. staff augmentation, fixed
price/scope/price, support models and SLA's)
-Understand how and when to focus prospect s in the different
fulfillment models in consulting (i.e. managerial, general, systems,
process, etc.)

The compensation package will be base plus commission. Active accounts
will be provided to allow time for the BDE to develop new accounts to take
their place of in revenue and margin credit for comp plan purposes.
Desirable additional skills and capabilities would be

- Background in consulting delivery, pre-sales support or systems engineer role
- Exposure to or background in project management issues

Please provide a resume with experience and account lists to validate your interview responses to the above criteria. Client references will not be required for interviews but will be requested later in the hiring process.

Referral Program: Referrals are greatly appreciated!. If you know someone that is a fit for this position please have them send me the information requested below along with your name as the referrer. If I can put them to work I will send you a $500-$1000 referral after they complete their 3rd month on contract.

**Need to know the following details to expedite the process*****
-What is your current location? :
-Are you currently on a project, If Yes-Why you are looking for new project?
-Define your job position you are looking for more clearly:
-Are you willing to be flexible to work in technology or areas that you are not familiar with?
-Have you had any current interview experience lately: If yes, please let me know Client name, interview date, Feedback or expected Feedback?
-Are you Willing to Relocate?:
-Availability (earliest date you can start)? :
-Your Work Authorization?:
-Current Salary and Expected Salary?:
-What is the best number you can be reached at? :

Give me your employer details:
Two References Details (Must) with Name of the person, Company name, Phone

About US: <company> is a dominant and dedicated provider of Oracle applications, PeopleSoft, SAP & Microsoft Technologies consulting, hosting, and managed services. We are a Platinum Partner as well as a client of Oracle Corporation. People Tech Group is seeking talented consultants who will be integral to creating winning teams. With a work environment that offers an opportunity for real career growth, People Tech Group is a true consultant's company! People Tech Group offers a competitive benefits
package including 401(k) plan.

Thanks & Regards,
| Operation Head | <Company>
Direct: (253)-999-9999| Fax: 253 999-9999 |person at <Company>.com

|Address, Bellevue, WA. 98007 |

If you receive something like this, even if you are unemployed your internal alarm system should be going off big time. Let's start with the opening. Notice that they got you off of a "job portal". They don't tell you which "portal" or job board; an ethical recruiter will *always* tell you where they sourced (found) your resume., CareerBuilder, their own internal database. They also ask that you not answer if you are currently engaged with their client, but they don't mention the client by name. This is a ruse

Now while the job description sounds real, please note the area where it asks for all sort of information that you should NEVER give unless you are actually interviewing for a job, certainly *never* in just an email. Most especially the information about reference details. This is just asking for someone you don't even know to hijack your identity.

Even if this is a "legitimate" recruiting agency, this is still a form of phishing. There are tons of off-shored resume "services" that are used by agencies to try and go after business by having resumes "on file" that they have acquired by any number of less than ethical means, the above illustrated example being just one. Below is an offer from one recruiter to others. He is responding to a professional job inquiry for a sourcing recruiter, basically someone that is a headhunting researcher (which is one of my main recruiting talents and titles.) Please note the verbiage of the reply/offer:

"I have used virtual folks equipped with Monster, CB, and DICE licenses who can do this and internet searching for $6.25/hr.
They will provide you with up to 150 resumes/week for 1-15 openings, and offer a free trial... However, some companies may prefer to spend 5-8x as much to get almost as much work done by a person onsite- which is their right."

Cheers, KH"

What he is referring to is exactly the type of operation that sends the type of phishing mail above.

-For those that are desperate or don't know how to work with employment agencies (either contract or direct-placement), there are some things you can do to minimize exposure to this sort of practice.

-If you are using job boards such as Monster or CareerBuilder (CB), take your email off your resume and anonymize the contact info, but put a phone number on there (I highly suggest GoogleVoice for just this sort of thing.) If a recruiter is truly interested in your for your actual skills, they will *call you*.

-Never give the information they are asking for above. Set up a job hunting email address and use it. Reply and ask the "recruiter" who the client is or even what industry. Tell them you are happy to come by their office to meet and discuss opportunities and go through the application process.

-Check LinkedIn to see if the person is who they purport to be, then send them email to validate their inquiry.

-Ask other professionals in your field of they have had experience with <Company> either as a candidate or as a hiring manager.

-Throw the proverbial ball back in their court: ask them for references and their client list. Call those companies, ask for the Recruiting Manager and verify that they have, indeed, successfully placed candidates or contractors there in the past, and ask what the corporate recruiter thinks about them.

Remember, your identity includes access to your credit report/history, banks, job history, address, legal records, driving record/history and a host of other things you may not even consider when replying to this seemingly-honest job opportunity.

Getting A Job With a US Work Visa Wed, 15 Feb 2012 13:18:34 -0800 Conquent
I get contacted fairly frequently by professionals around the world asking my help finding them a job in the US. These candidates don't live in the US, but they really want to come here to work. Many of them think that all they need to do is just impress an employer enough and they will be able to get a visa with little or no problem. But the reality is that US immigration is a tough nut to crack and that someone needs to be in an exceptionally high demand field where a sponsoring company can prove that there are not very many citizens or permanent residents ("green card" holders) to fill the jobs OR that they are globally recognized as experts in their field (I've used this category visa when I was recruiting PhD's for Microsoft Research.)

My experience is pretty much limited to technical (software/IT) professionals. I've used the H1-B, O (that "expert" visa), TN (North America - Canada and Mexico), L (intracompany transfer), E3 (Australia, Chile) and the educational work (CPT/OPT) visas in my line of work. First off, *very few companies sponsor corporate H1-B candidates*. It is expensive, and the biggest challenge is often the wait: a visa that is approved in April often cannot be used until October, and most employers just cannot wait that long to fill a position. When a job is opened, it is an *immediate* need.

Instead of going into all kinds of detail, I'm going to give you a few observations and suggestions. The easiest way to get a US job from outside our borders is to work for a US subsidiary in another country and then get an intracompany transfer. It's akin to going to a branch campus of a school with very tough admission standards and then transferring to the main campus. Speaking of can come to the US to get a degree or graduate degree and use your CPT/OPT as a springboard. But here is the chance you take with your CPT/OPT Visa: it does not automatically guarantee that the company that you are working for will offer you an H1-B. I've lost two great candidates in the last year because my company will not put in writing that we will sponsor someone at the end of their OPT.

There are many international consulting companies that have access to H1-B visas for their employees. Look up "global management consulting companies". My experience is mainly with companies in India and Ethiopia for technical employees, but there may be other options in other countries.

But another suggestion is to consider moving to Canada, which is very similar to the US in terms of culture, standard of living, and opportunity with a much higher chance of getting a visa; Canada seems more welcoming to global professionals. If you are thinking of using a Canadian work permit to try for a TN, you need to note that to be eligible for a TN Visa, you must be a Canadian citizen; it is not enough to be a resident of the country with a valid work permit.

I freely admit that Americans take the quality of our freedoms, our general standard of living, the opportunity to make personal wealth based on a capitalistic economy, and the legal protections we have as workers for granted. I believe in a diverse workplace and global economy. But I need aspiring professionals to understand the realities *I* face as a recruiter and the limitations I have.
What Is Negotiable In A Job Offer? Tue, 21 Feb 2012 18:01:23 -0800 Conquent
The general rule of thumb is that the smaller the company, the more flexible they are with policies. As a company becomes larger it needs to put policies and procedures in place that benefit the majority of the employees. If it is a publicly traded company, those items can be even more stringently controlled.

Those things that generally have some flexibility in terms of negotiability are generally monetary: base salary (within a set range, which I've discussed before), sign-on bonus, and sometimes stock/equity. Titles can sometimes also be negotiated (for example putting "Senior" in front of it if your experience warrants it.)

As a recruiter making offers fairly regularly, the three things that people try to negotiate on that are generally non-negotiable (with me as the recruiter) unless you are at the VP level or above:

Vacation Time
Flexible Work Schedule

Vacation is generally pre-set based on seniority, and earned as you work (ie you receive .6 hours of paid vacation for every 40 hours you work.) If you are starting a new job and have vacation already planned, most companies allow you to either take it unpaid or apply un-earned vacation (causing a deficit; if you leave your job before you accrue this time, it may be taken out of your final pay check). This is something you want to discuss with your potential employer.

A person's work schedule is something that is determined by the (hiring) manager, not HR/Recruiting. For example, I recently hired someone that had a personal commitment and asked if he could work 80% of FT until mid-April (32 hours a week). The manager was fine with it and we actually amended his offer letter, and will revisit the terms of his offer in April. If someone needs to work outside of "core" business hours, they need to discuss it with the manager *before* they accept the job.

Telecommuting isn't a viable work style for every company, and in the Seattle area it is often used as a retention tool for valued/high producing employees as opposed to a recruiting tool . Sometimes if there is a dearth of office space it is necessitated, but that should be in the job description. Most companies that have the infrastructure have flexible policies about occasional telecommuting (ie you are waiting for the plumber, so you work from home in the morning) or if you have family obligations like an ill child, but that is the exception rather than the norm. And, again, it is generally at the discretion of the hiring manager, and subject to a company's stated policies.

If you are someone that believes you absolutely must have more flexibility with your work environment, being the employee of someone else may not be the best professional route for you. More and more people are realizing that consulting is a better lifestyle for them, and there are tons of resources to find out more about being a 1099 consultant out there. ]]>
Resume Bloopers (or, How Not To Get The Job) Mon, 5 Mar 2012 18:17:42 -0800 Conquent
Today I received an email with two attachments. It was an employee referral for a specific position I have open. I opened the first version of the candidate's resume. At the top was her name. Then her professional history (which is fine). But I sent an email to the sender: "where is her contact information?!" Turns out it was at the bottom, as part of the footer. Which meant that I had to go to the bottom, hit the "edit footer" option, then highlight her email address. OK folks, that is a PITA for me. The only reason I actually opened it was because it was a referral from one of my managers. If I got that sort of resume from a random document, I wouldn't even bother.

Then of course I read the resume. She was interested in a specific position, but she hadn't read the job description. Obviously. She had none of the *absolutely required* skills that this position called for.

Then I was looking at applicants to my jobs in our applicant tracking database today. And I saw something *so bizarre* that I made it my "joke of the day" resume to my team.

Keeping in mind that applying for a job via our website is a *legal application*. This particular candidate had given her name as "Lady Jane". First name Lady. Last name Jane. (Actually it was not Jane but it was a common female English name.) Now, she had applied for a position as a software tester. But almost her entire resume was filled up with a list of artistic projects. And the website links she included as her "portfolio" were broken. Her objective was quite esoteric and totally unrelated to the job she applied for (it was about using art to make the universe a better place). The kicker was that she claimed to be a Knight of Malta. Which, while interesting, has no real place on a resume unless you are applying for a humanitarian or positions with a religious institution. *From the Order's FAQ:

"10) How does one become a member of the Order?
One can become a member of the Order of Malta only by invitation. Only persons of undoubted Catholic morality and practice, who have acquired merit with regard to the Sovereign Order, its institutions and its works are eligible for admission.

To be fair, in scrutinizing her work history, she did mention working in software testing. But they were just that: mentions, with no supporting information such as tools, products, or methodologies.
The conclusion I (and my co-workers reached) is that she is just applying to jobs for her unemployment claim. And other than the amusement factor, it's a waste of my *valuable* time.

So make sure that when you are crafting your resume for specific jobs that you are doing your best to actually look right for a position. ]]>
College Students - How To Work A Job Fair Wed, 11 Apr 2012 10:05:00 -0800 Conquent
We get in about 30-60 minutes early to set up our table. Putting out flyers, giveaways (pens, lanyards and candy this year). Then we wait for the first rush, which usually lasts for an hour or so. And here is the basic exchange between the employer and the prospective employee.

Student walks up. “Hi, my name is John Doe. What does your company do and what are you hiring for?”

Me: “Hi John, I’m Kristen. We are a software and media company. What are you looking for, an internship or a full-time position? What is your major or area of concentration?”

My colleague and I each had this conversation about 100 times each. Now, mind you, there are flyers on the table right in front of both of us that tell you about the company, the types of internships and entry level positions we usually hire for.

I’ve attended a *lot* of job fairs in my career as a recruiter, both for collegiate and industry audiences. And I must tell you that it does not make a good impression if you come to a table and say “what do you do”? I’ve never attended a job fair where we didn’t send a blurb on ahead about the company and sample job descriptions or actual positions we are hiring for.

Respectfully, I would request a few things from students looking for any sort of position. Please, research the companies you will be talking to. Just a basic knowledge of their industry should suffice. Keep in mind that I have provided you with information that you can easily look up. When you walk up to me, it is the first time I’ve ever seen and heard of you.

A better approach would be:
Student: “Hi, my name is John Doe, and I’m a junior Computer Science major looking for a summer internship in application development. I see that your software media company has listed that you are hiring software interns; can you tell me how I would apply, and how long the internships are?”

This allows me to arrow in directly on how to answer your question, give you the information I have, and quickly move on to speaking with the three people standing behind you. It also saves me from having to pry out of you that you are theater major and to disappoint you after we’ve established a rapport. It also sounds more polished and professional and that you have put time into the first impression you are making.
Facebook Access Requests During Interviews Fri, 20 Apr 2012 15:51:53 -0800 Conquent
As our society becomes so much more transparent, it is almost inevitable that privacy policies will arise. We check in places with our phones, post our relationship status on Facebook, Tweet when we are going on vacation and sharing photos from Maui. Some employers are using this shift in social habits as an advantage to utilize free tools to help make determinations about employee and candidate suitability for their organization. Professionally, my own stance is that this whole practice is an invasion of privacy, unreliable, and too much of a risk for discrimination lawsuit. The only times I ever use Facebook for "work" is to post a job and sometimes to send a candidate a message.

There are only a few choices for candidates that are concerned about practices like this. Before you go into the interview, ask the HR/Recruiting representative that you are working with if this is a practice their company employs; this will allow you to make the decision as to whether or not you want to go forward. In the interview, there are a few other options. The first is, of course, refuse to do this during an interview; the choice may be dependent on how badly you need the job. You can say it is a violation of your terms and services; you can say you don't remember your password; you can tell the interviewer/s that you are not comfortable allowing them access to other people's information, and that this practice is a violation of HIPAA (an HR professional should know what this means). You could lie and tell them that you don't have a Facebook account and direct them to your LinkedIn profile (but keep in mind if you do that, and an employer researches and finds an account that is under your name and they can identify you, this is grounds for disqualification for any jobs.)

Other choices involve the content of your account. You could delete your entire account and start over with a new name (maybe a different spelling on the one you use or by a nickname). Delete anything that might be "damning" such as risque photos/status updates, information such as your relationship status/gender interest, religious views, and of course any posts by you or anyone else on your wall that could reflect badly on your general character. Lock down your profile tightly. Be very careful what you "like" in terms of any of the above mentioned subjects.

A longer term view might be to make your state and federal congressional representatives and senators aware of the fact that you find this is intolerable. It is only by voicing your views that the government will consider putting protections in place to guard your privacy. I foresee this practice being banned eventually but until then it is your choice and responsibility to safeguard your online profiles, including those of your circle of contacts. ]]>
Bad Interview Etiquette That May Cost You The Job Mon, 30 Apr 2012 11:32:44 -0800 Conquent
1) Swearing in an interview. It is inappropriate to use foul language in an interview. It would seem to be common sense, but we recently had a candidate who dropped the "f bomb" during a lunch interview.

2) Making a racial slur. Even if you feel "sympatico" with an interviewer, remember that you are in a professional environment and that it is never okay to denigrate anyone on the basis of ethnicity, lifestyle, religion, marital/family status, etc. Ever.

3) Ask about *another* job you are interested in, not the one you are interviewing for. The time to do that is when you are talking to the recruiter, not when you are actually in the interviews. If you don't want the job or are actually more interested in a different position, don't waste everyone's time trying to weasel your way into another position. This has happened twice in the last couple of months and all it does is turn the hiring manager off.

4) Pull your cell phone out to either check your mail/texts or take a call. One of my colleagues was sitting in the final interview with the General Manager and the candidate. The candidate's phone rang and he took the call. It cost him an offer for the job.

5) Moderation in your personal presentation. A team once went with another candidate because one guy had on so much cologne it took a whole day to air out the interview room.

6) Maintain *eye* contact. From a female friend of mine: At a former employer, I was once part of a panel interview with a candidate. The entire hour, he did not look at the face of any interviewer...he only looked at my chest.

7) Dress for success. "Best ever- candidate shows up to interview in full Japanese kimono outfit. " There is nothing wrong with being proud of your cultural heritage, but part of the interview process is making sure there is a cultural fit. If in doubt, ask the recruiter what the dress code is for the interviews.

8) Personal hygiene is a must: I had one guy pick his nose during and interview and then ask to shake hands.

9) Communication skills: Candidate talked way too much about his personal life during the interview. Just because *you* think it's a positive that you do" X", that doesn't mean other people will agree.

10) Market yourself positively. When interviewing a candidate, we got to the question "tell me about your weaknesses" , and she said she has never been able to throw away a piece of paper, and has organized stacks of paper all surrounding her desk, and then kept going on about other weaknesses....we asked her to stop and tell us about some of her strengths.

11) Preparing for the job and interview (i.e. a portfolio): My company was interviewing a web developer who came in for a group interview. I Googled him to see what kinds of work had his name on it, and a blog site popped up. I went to it and it was broken; a syntax error in a file. I brought it to his attention during the interview, and he said basically that he hadn't seen the need to fix it. A few days later it was still broken.

It truly amazes recruiters, interviewers and hiring managers what some candidates will (not) do during interviews.

Too Overeducated for the Job Market? Tue, 29 May 2012 18:16:47 -0800 Conquent
So here is the truth of the matter: unless you are going into a research field or teaching at the University level, a PhD is often overkill and you will have a hard time finding a job. And when I say "research" I mean R & D for a product company (including software, pharma, aerospace etc.), the government, or... a university. The same conversation happened later in the evening with another set of friends; one of them had a sibling that was having a hard time finding a job as a teacher - his Master's in Education was *barring* his entry into the public school teaching sector. (Exception - if you have have a math/science degree you are highly employable with that M Ed.)

The reason for this? Purely economic: the more advanced the education, the more a candidate (rightfully) expects to be paid. And although the market is picking up, with very few exceptions organizations are looking for a balance of education and experience. There are a few exceptions. Getting an MBA is rarely a bad idea, and an even better idea if you are doing it after having a few years of industry experience under your belt. But keep in mind that the more people that receive MBA's, the less valuable a commodity it becomes, and the less it is worth in terms of money on the job. Some fields require advance degrees to become licensed, like social work or law.

And then there are those people that keep getting more and more education or keep changing their majors, or get a double major and triple minor. What does that tell me? Well, it can actually go a couple of ways. If someone keeps changing their major, to me that means they cannot make a commitment, are indecisive, lack focus, and possibly that they are too immature to hire for a job that requires them to concentrate on one main area in a profession. For those students that are obvious overachievers, I fear that they will be lost in jobs that require them to actually structure their own time and problem-solve. Overachievers typically seem to come from backgrounds where they have a lot of structure imposed on them externally, and don't have a lot of time to figure out how to occupy themselves.

So make sure that you aren't over-educating yourself out of a job as you keep on racking up more student loans in the course of becoming more "well rounded". It's possible to be *too* rounded. ]]>
Geographic Cultural Influences on the Job/Employment Market Thu, 7 Jun 2012 14:03:08 -0800 Conquent
Here is the other thing: recruiting and working norms in the Bay area are much different than they are in Seattle (or Boston, or NYC, or Atlanta or any other city.) What do I mean by that? Well, San Francisco, San Jose, Sunnyvale and environs have two very distinct types of technology companies but a unified culture: established, global companies and startupville. And the reason I say there is a hybrid is because there are technical behemoths in the area like Google and Facebook that are “established” and “global” but very culturally startup environments. Then you have companies like eBay, Symantec, and Yahoo that have been around for a very long time and are more “traditional”. There are also the gazillion startups that are succeeding and failing every day. As a recruiter, I can tell you that the candidate pool and profile is influenced by the whole startup culture. This means that candidates tend to jump jobs fairly regularly, and expect to be working on really interesting and cool stuff and stay engaged or they go elsewhere. A stable job history is *less important* there than it is elsewhere. Hiring managers don’t WANT stable job histories; it isn’t the norm, and it makes candidates less attractive, more boring, less agile.

Seattle, on the other hand, is an area of stability. Hiring managers want candidates that don’t job hop, with the exception of contractors. And that is largely because of Microsoft and Boeing, both companies that rely heavily on contract and contingent workforce augmentation and have created an acceptance of contracting as an acceptable career profile. But they prefer your contracts to be at least a year or more long. And when I’m working with my hiring managers looking for candidates and we are identifying where the top talent comes from, we have a list of the “usual suspects”: Microsoft, Starbuck’s, Amazon, Expedia, T-Mobile, AT&T and a handful of smaller companies occupying similar spaces that we do. That is one side of the tech market (software and internet/e-commerce) in Seattle; the other sides are biotech and aerospace. There are other industries in Seattle such as education, medicine, PR/Advertising, hospitality/travel, and fashion. But tech is what has been fueling a majority of the local economy the last 20 years, so much of the local economy and cultural workplace is wrapped endemic to the *workforce*. Here’s another truism: there are very few companies in Seattle that don’t use Microsoft Office as their default email/word processing/spreadsheet software. Why? Because so much of the local workforce has worked AT Microsoft that it’s what we know professionally.

In the DC Metro area, if you are in IT, it is almost assumed that you will have some sort of secret clearance, and that it commands more money across the board. This very simply has to do with the government being the biggest employer or subcontract client in the area. It’s a commodity. Here in Seattle, it means very little in the tech market, because we are mostly consumer-focused.

My point is, when you are looking for a new position, it’s just as important to learn the how the local employer culture works. And if you are coming out of a long time at one company, learn about what the local culture is like and why it has evolved (the why is important because it helps structure your resume appropriately and you prepare for interviews.)
The Importance of Job Descriptions, Job Duties, and Content Tue, 10 Jul 2012 17:14:20 -0800 Conquent
Earlier this week, the founder/moderator of the group posted this question:

How do you feel about this statement regarding job descriptions?

". . . replace job descriptions with a goal setting process, in which individuals are expected to regularly indicate what they’re trying to accomplish, what their goals are and how their success is measured."

OK, my first reaction to this statement was a request by job seekers to change the way we (hiring organizations) actually write job descriptions. There were a couple of comments from folks who thought this was a brilliant idea, and then yours truly chimed in:

"I don't think this is practical. First of all, this statement expects individuals to tell an employer what they are going to do without knowing the parameters of job itself. Goals may be different for different candidates based on their experience. As a recruiter, I may find a more senior candidate for a role that I could delineate a more compressed timeline and set of goals, conversely a more junior candidate may not be able to meet goals as stated. There is also the fact that some goals may fall under Non-disclosure agreements that are only to be shared if the candidate is brought in for interviews; discussing a company's business plans is negligent. I think the process a company uses for measuring and setting goals should definitely be part of an initial conversation, but not as an external replacement for a detailed job description. I'm not arguing that too may job descriptions need to be refined and revamped."

Yvonne (the moderator/poster) then looked up "job description" in context, and we decided that this could also be in conjunction with resume writing, as you (as the job seeker/audience) is trying to delineate your own employment history. Put under this light, the original comment makes much more sense. But if we take it in this context, I still cannot condone it as the *only* way to share information with a potential employer.

I know job seekers have been instructed to delineate accomplishments on your resume, and this statement certainly addresses that in a meaningful way. But you cannot use the description of a process and the outcome on your resume to tell your story. Here are a couple of reasons why.

Candidates should keep in mind that not every recruiter is going know the ins and outs of every job they are working on, and if you don't put some of the "duties" associated with your profession there are some consequences where you will be screening yourself *out* of the job market. Recruiting, like any other job, takes time to learn. For example, I am generally a Technical Recruiter in the software industry. However, I've recruited in the Legal and Medical industries, and as a corporate technical recruiter I also hire for support positions such as marketing, operations, finance, etc. My knowledge about what jobs entail isn't *just* software engineers. That being said, every time a new type of position opens up, it's a learning process for me. I'm a very senior recruiter with a lot of experience behind me, but many recruiters are either new to our profession, new to an industry, or even generalists that are handling the recruiting for their businesses but recruiting isn't their forte (either through choice or circumstance). Keeping that in mind, be aware that they may not send your resume to a hiring manager because they are just looking at numbers/results, not at what the actual daily/weekly/monthly processes are.

Here is where I'm going to talk some more about what *I* do on a daily basis. For every job, (and I don't care whether it's a janitor for the local sports complex, an assistant manager for the local Walmart, or the VP of an international widget company), there are set minimum qualifications for the job. They could be as simple as "HS diploma or equivalent and at least six months of professional experience" on up to a whole host of very specialized skills and certifications. But as the first human pass at applicants, my job is to make sure that candidates fit the very basic job qualifications, and if a job description has the term "require" or "must have" that means exactly what it says: if you don't have that background, *you aren't qualified for the job*. If a job requires a Bachelor's degree and you are five credits shy, you aren't a qualified applicant. I've discussed requirements previously, so won't linger on them. So applying for jobs you are patently *unqualified* for is really just an exercise in futility for you if you really want the job.

Here is how I, as a recruiter, identify qualified candidates for a job. I take the minimum qualifications and build what is known as a Boolean logic string, otherwise known as a keyword search. Remember, keyword searching is based on very specific keywords. If a job requires:

6+ years of medical device sales
-Demonstrated ability to cold-call and external lead generation for business development
-2+ years using Salesforce

and your resume says:
-"$200 million in sales and $350 million service contract to the largest hospital system in the greater Boston area".

and you never mention Salesforce, cold-calling, medical devices, or lead-generation then you will never even make it past a first screen because those are the keywords a recruiter will be using. The *result* of your efforts is the accomplishment that shows that you are a star performer, but you need to tell me how you achieve those results. Hiring managers don't just want to know the "what", they want to know the "how" as well. The keyword search will pull up generally qualified candidates, but it takes a human eye to determine if the experience indicated fits the *amount* of experience and whether or not it is current. This is one of the very main reasons NOT to use a functional resume unless you are in a portfolio industry. My hiring managers *won't accept functional resumes* and if I cannot determine your level of experience from a first pass, I don't have the time to dig deeper and try and piece together your job history. It's YOUR responsibility to give me the information in such a way that I assess it and use it. I do read every resume that comes up in a first keyword search, but I only truly consider those that match the requirements, and this is pretty standard for most reputable recruiters.

I've mentioned before why we use Boolean/keyword searches and minmnum qualifications. It isn't just to "weed out" people. A lot of it has to do with government regulations for EEOC, AA (Affirmative Action), and USCIS (US Immigration) compliance. There is also the fact that as our world becomes infinitely more connected and technology allows people access to even more jobs that we get more and more applicants for each job. And when I have 543 applicants for a Marketing Manager job, I have to be able to narrow the search to the *qualified* applicants to pass along to the hiring manager. Especially with titles that are extremely broad, "defining" the job becomes even more critical. If my hiring manager doesn't have budget for relocation, I'm not going to consider someone who lives outside of the local area. (This is where you can help yourself by using a local address if you are planning on moving somewhere, say as a "trailing spouse" to someone that is being relocated.)

I will be the first to admit that there are many, many MANY poorly written job postings out there, but I have never seen one that doesn't have a set of requirements. They can broad or highly specific, but this is the starting point for all recruiting and also how candidates should go about structuring their own work experience to make sure they at least make an initial impression.
Career Moves - The Truth Tue, 14 Aug 2012 11:52:14 -0800 Conquent

But note that this article was written in 2007, before the economic disaster that was 2008-2010. "Hiring on potential" is not a viable recruiting model for companies that are running lean. "Lean" means that your employees are doing at least 100%+ of their job. Here is an example. At a local well-known company, non-revenue generating business units are told they must function with 70%. What this means is that if a department tells management that they need 10 people to get all the work done in the department, then they are given 70% of those resources, or 7 people. Each person is probably going to have to actually do the job of 1.25 or 1.33 indivduals, which means that they need to be able to functionally do the job they are hired for, and have the ability and competency to take on an additional 25-30% of the departmental workload.

Additionally, "potential" is an amorphous concept. Lots of researchers have tried to quantify what will make someone a "high potential" employee. It is based on a lot of factors such as your educational history (grades and what school/s you have attended), test scores (ie SAT), IQ, and how quickly you have risen through the ranks at past/current jobs and what positive (translate STELLAR) results you have generated. Often times employees are hired and then identified as "high potential" and fast tracked with special projects and "stretch" assignments.

In addition to so many businesses running tactically (reacting vs. planning and looking far ahead/strategically) and lean, as I have mentioned in a few past postings compliance issues (legal requirements by state or federal government agencies) affect how candidates are evaluated for jobs. To reiterate these factors:

A) Companies often legally have to craft their job descriptions so that they are clear-cut in terms of experience, education, and history.
B) Due to those same legalities, organizations *cannot consider candidates that don't meet the minimum qualifications*
C) "Minimum qualifications" are just that: attributes that candidates MUST HAVE to be considered.

For example, if a job description requires a Bachelor's degree in a technical field, having a Bachelor's in history doesn't meet the bar. If it requires 2-3 years of relevant industry experience, for example commercial sales in telecommunications, then being a cashier at McDonald's *isn't qualified.*

So in the two recent examples I mentioned, one is an outside sales professional with experience in financial services, construction, beauty supplies and high tech asked me about transitioning to a salaried position not involving sales in the health/fitness industry in a highly depressed area (economically). I told her honestly that unless she knows the owner of the company or other inside connection, the best she could probably do is inside sales or maybe marketing, but to expect that she might need to take a pay cut for the transition. She does have a fair bit of marketing on her resume, but not nearly as much as her strong outside sales, and she has almost no experience in the health/fitness industry. To make both a career *and* industry switch at the same time is not impossible, but expect to take a pay cut IF you can find a position.

The other example was one of those acquaintances that want to take advantage of knowing a recruiter. This is one of those "son-in-law-of-a-neighbor" scenarios that is very common for those of us in the field. Most recruiters don't mind helping out where we can, but it's important to remember that we may not be able to do much. In this case, the candidate in question (anyone looking for a job is a "candidate" to a recruiter) just finished an MBA and wanted to get "back" into technology. Well, he hadn't worked in the tech sector in over 10 years, and his experience wasn't such that an MBA, even one with a technology management emphasis, will facilitate an "automatic" entry into the tech field. It is an erroneous conception, often fostered by what I consider to be patently *false advertising*, that getting an advanced degree will open up all these doors for you without relevant experience in the field. An MBA in conjunction with a solid work history can absolutely open doors in your own field and boost your earning potential, but it is not a guaranteed passport to a new industry and career switch without taking either a lateral move or potentially a title (and salary) hit to move into a new field.

The Opportunity Mon, 10 Sep 2012 08:14:10 -0800 Conquent
Another friend interviewed earlier this year for a full-time job at where she has been working on contract for the last year or so. I remember when she got the interview, she wasn't too sure about the fit with the group she was interviewing with. She ended up not getting the job, and she was actually relieved, even though she was also disappointed.

For those that are not *desperately* seeking a job, it's difficult not to wonder at lack of enthusiasm when what appears to be a really good opportunity comes along. Sometimes an OPPORTUNITY seems really great, but when you get to the interview portion or you learn more about the organization, you realize that the job itself isn't as appealing as what you thought it was. Maybe it's the timing, perhaps it is the team you are interviewing with, or the manager has expectations that may be different than what has been portrayed to you. I said to both my friends that to me, the opportunity sounded amazing to them, but the actual job fell short. Both of them agreed that this was what they had been trying to clarify for themselves about what had bothered them.

It is unfortunate that a lot of organizations forget that the interview process is a two-way street. Candidates are evaluating fit as much as they are being evaluated. And in our recent tight economy, it is really difficult for some candidates to remember that you aren't always obligated to take a job offer, especially if after a mutual exploration (phone screen, interviews) you feel that it truly isn't a "fit" for you. If you have been exploring a potential opportunity, and something doesn't feel right, remember that you should not discount your "gut reaction" if it seems "perfect" on the surface. ]]>
Resume Content Template Mon, 17 Sep 2012 12:28:43 -0800 Conquent
One friend has been with the same company a dozen years, and I put this together for her. First, don’t worry about the format: content is king. Second, your best strategy is to do an information dump, and the most important things to focus on are:

1) Your most current job/s for the last 5-7 years. This is where you need to concentrate your efforts.

2) What is most important to you in your job that you want to emphasize for your next opportunity? Be realistic. Something you did on one project three years ago that you really enjoyed but only worked on for three months is *not* going to make you qualified for a career transition. Stick to things you have been doing fairly consistently, then try and build your experience around them.

3) *What is the value* each experience brings to the business? In simplest terms, how did your activities help the bottom line? (This is what hiring managers and recruiters care about.)

Here is a rough template:
Company Name

Title and dates from - to (repeat this as many times as needed for internal promotions/moves)

List out your primary duties in order of time spent then on down to even the most trivial activities.

After you have listed them out, put a point after them as to whether there was a benefit or accomplishment that helped the company/client

List out projects separately, as well as what their value or purpose was.

This is for someone that has been in a corporate, career series of jobs. Another person I have been helping has an unusual background. She has been a costume designer in the local theater scene, which is both highly competitive and drying up with the economy lately. She is looking to move into the local apparel industry (which is actually a decent goal in terms of opportunities), but is having trouble figuring out how to build out her career that is in essence a series of short-term contractor opportunities (this falls under one of those “portfolio careers” where a functional resume or combo is appropriate). In her case, one of the main issues is filling out online applications. So here is my suggestion in such a situation.

Professional Experience:
Independent Contractor – 1998-Present
Apparel and Costume Design

Skill set: these are your functional skills and should highlight those that are asked for in the job description(s).

Projects include: (this is where you where you will talk about the types of projects you have worked on such as period design such as Shakespearean and Italian Opera, modern musicals, mid-twentieth century fashion, etc.)

Representative clients: Seattle Opera, Issaquah Community Theater, ACT Theater, etc.

Portfolio URL:

Education: This is actual matriculated or relevant continuing ed classes, not seminars or non-industry-standard training.

Professional Affiliations and Recognition: In this case, it would be the local union or other organizations.

This works for any sort of industry that includes a multitude of clients where you exercise similar skills across the board. Any sort of actual portfolio you have is going to be your selling point, more than just your client and project list.

The most important thing to remember is you are trying to align your resume and experience with the job/s you are targeting, and that means mirroring the job requirements and desired traits as closely as possible. You need to use the industry keywords and concepts the job posting has. This is what is going to at least get you into the actual resume review.

And here is your “golden ticket”: The more times a keyword/phrase is repeated on your resume the higher it will show stack ranked as a returned result in a keyword search.
Understanding Your Audience Wed, 7 Nov 2012 13:38:10 -0800 Conquent
In the aftermath of last night's US Presidential election, I have to say: the GOP leadership just doesn't *get* it. Their base, that is. In an interview on Mother Jones, of the DC RNC party attendees summed up what I see as the major issue for the GOP this election cycle: "Republicans from Mitt Romney on down let themselves get too entangled with social issues like abortion. "Republicans are shooting themselves in the foot," she said. Conservatives are "completely right on economics, but they're completely wrong on social issues." (

I have plenty of fiscally conservative or moderate friends that don't like the concept of "big government"; but most of them are socially moderate or liberal and cannot believe how extreme the candidates across the party, both incumbent and new to the race, have been platforming on social issues. Women's rights, especially, went a long way toward tipping the scales yesterday. Many of them are not happy about being "forced" to vote either democrat or independent (lots of Gary Johnson supporters in my circle.) As one of my friends wrote,

"When you start a war on women you only need to dig one grave--because we are going to bury you in it.

I hope tonight is a wake-up call to the GOP that conservatives want our party back. You can't be conservative and a religious fanatic. Talmudic law is not US law. Individual freedom applies to ALL citizens, not just the people who think like you. "

Government is no different than business. When you are courting a potential customer/client/audience, you need to understand what is important to them and message your brand accordingly.

I only hope that things in the US government change. Soon. I don't want our country torn apart again in 4 years.

To Be or Not To Be Thu, 15 Nov 2012 09:11:01 -0800 Conquent
I have consistently told my own leaders that I have *absolutely no desire* to get into a management role. I'm happy to mentor, I'd consider a Lead Recruiter position, but I love being a *recruiter*. And after you have spent any amount of time in the business world, you learn two very important things: one, if someone is a good individual contributor (IC) that doesn't necessarily equate to a good manager, and second, managers don't do the same jobs as IC's-they go to meetings, they work with HR on employee issues, they manage budgets, they go to meetings, they work on succession planning and headcount forecasting, they go to meetings, they plan for the next fiscal year, they go to meetings...yes, you see a pattern.

The question I would ask yourself is: why do you want to be a manager? What compels you to want a "management" title? Is it more money? Is it because you really enjoy developing employees? Do you want to be a strategic part of your company's growth? Is it because it seems natural that more responsibility equals a "manager" title?

The only question with a "yes" answer that would be valid among those listed above is "developing employees". But remember that "developing" includes hiring, firing, and performance management (ie evaluating each of your direct reports every year and dealing with underperformers or any other issues). If you are a hiring manager, part of growing your team and business includes writing job descriptions, managing your headcount budget, dealing with internal equity, providing training and opportunities for growth, and spending a significant amount of time working with recruiting-reviewing resumes, conducting phone screens, interviewing, working with compensation to make sure that your team has internal compensation equity.

Management also includes significant amounts of reporting to your superiors, politicking, operational procedures, interacting with other team stakeholders on projects as well as working on future-looking projects and initiatives. This may or may not be in addition to also being a contributing member of your team. Think of a brand retail store manager. S/he does all the scheduling, orders supplies, goes over all the financial transactions, deals with customer issues, interfaces with HQ/Divisional management, makes sure all associates are up to date and trained, does all the interviewing/hiring/firing, conducts all HR functions, AND generally also sells and has their own sales goals which may or may not be tied to the store's numbers. Managers get paid more, but they certainly work much longer hours.

Obviously, managers are necessary in today's business world, and some people are great leaders. But if you say you want to get "into management" and don't know everything that will entail, you might want to think on your career trajectory. If you love your profession and the day-to-day activities, "management" may actually make you hate your job. And the truth of the matter is that in most companies, if someone is promoted into "management" and it turns out they aren't good at it the transition can have a detrimental effect on longer-term career opportunities. When you move on to a new company, you will be asked, "so I see you were a manager at XYZ company; this is an individual role, why are you looking to take a step backwards in your career?" Fair or not, stepping OUT of a management role is seen as a backward step. This isn't true of every company in every industry, but it is common enough that you should think very carefully about getting onto the "management track".

Industry Profiles - Marketing Tue, 27 Nov 2012 10:39:28 -0800 Conquent
So there are a few things to understand about marketing. The purpose of marketing is to use a variety of persuasive mediums to drive interest in sales for products or services (a very basic definition, to be sure). Marketing is very closely tied to PR (Public Relations) on the industry spectrum and those marketers that are on the "creative" side are migrating to PR firms, as pure marketing companies seem to be on the decline. Marketing has moved from being a tactical response to a need to driving strategy, which is a good thing.

So what are some of the trends I've been seeing? Cross functionality is huge, and the role of marketing is starting to change from a purely creative "messaging" identity to more of a data-driven role. The big concept here is "monetization", which is the tie-in with sales; capture and analyze the profiles of your target audience and then zap them with appropriate messaging. Almost all the marketing professionals I have hired in the last year have very strong skills with web analytics, even our MBA grad (she got her experience from an internship.)

Here is a good <a href="">article</a> from high-level marketing execs with at least a decade each in the industry.

Marketing used to be all about driving customers to the object of the marketing plan. Nowadays, customers define the market and it's all about capturing their attention. Everything has gone digital; any "physical" marketing is generally done in conjunction with digital campaigns. It's interesting, because as a recruiter, I do a lot of marketing (making the right candidate segment aware of our job openings as well as our employment "brand" in general). The way I target my candidate population now is vastly different than a decade ago.

There has also been a fundamental shift in the consumer; they now want the opinions of the masses, trusting other consumers (including but not limited to friends and family) to help them make decisions. There are nowadays professional bloggers...people that make their money exclusively from their blogs-from advertisements that they may or may not have control over but, because they are trusted as a source of information, products on their websites trigger an innate trust in the readers. This ties into that data-driven profiling I mentioned. Facebook does a really good job of allowing marketing to devise extremely targeted campaigns; I've used it myself to look for web analytics managers.

If you are looking to get into marketing, say as a college student, I highly recommend that you learn about web analytics, either in school or on your own. GoogleAnalytics is a reasonable place to start. Some of the other well known tools on the market are Omniture, Catalyst, and WebTrends. (Wikipedia has a pretty good overview:

If you have been in marketing a long time and find yourself unsure how to transition from, say, a copywriter or event marketer into a more updated role, I suggest focusing on a specific part of the business like branding or licensing, and start becoming a guru in social media. Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Mashable and the up an comer, Pinterest (and if you don't have an industry blog, *start one*!). Read everything you can on how to tie social media into your marketing and branding experience. User yourself as the "brand" and start creating your digital expertise. ]]>
Industry Career Profiles - Human Resources Thu, 13 Dec 2012 11:13:53 -0800 Conquent
This is a noble sentiment, but the truth of the matter is that the primary purpose of human resources is to protect the company (legally) with regards to their human capital. There are only a few sub-specialties of the human resources field that deal specifically with "helping people." Recruiting is the most obvious; my job is to help hiring managers find great talent, and help people find good jobs. About the only downside to recruiting, for me, is having to decline a candidate when they aren't a fit for a position after phone calls or interviews. I need to have a working knowledge of Benefits, Compensation, and general HR laws. Employee Development/Training is also a domain for helping people. A few things to know about training. 1) you generally will need some sort of degree or experience in either education, psychology, or instructional design 2) it is one of the aspects of HR that is highly subject to budgetary restrictions and is often one of the first areas to be cut in times of economic downturns 3) there is a limited career path in HR for training/development. Benefits administration is a branch of HR that directly helps employees with decisions like health insurance, vacation, and investment options. Much of benefits lies in contract negotiation, reporting, and understanding the ever-changing insurance market (in the US) or in other countries the government-sponsored health plans.

Other areas of HR deal more with either research and reporting, compliance (legal), strategic planning, and solving problems involving employees and the company. Compensation is the arm of HR that deals with salaries (including raises, bonuses, new-hire scales, creating job descriptions). It is a complex analytical role that impacts recruiting, headcount forecasting (how many and what type of employees are going to be needed in the upcoming quarter/year), and interacts very closely with finance/accounting and payroll. The technical HRIS (Human Resource Information System) professional is responsible for the technology/tools that HR and Recruiting use such as databases and performance management tracking systems. There are related fields like Immigration or Employment Law (on both the company and individual side), Labor Union representatives, Career Coach, Employment Specialist for government agencies, and Career Counselors at Universities to name a few.

Most people generally think of the HR Generalist (or HR Manager, or HR Business Partner) when they think of "HR" positions. The role of the HR Generalist is to work within an organization to advise how business decisions that involve people are in the best interests of the business. This includes employee relations (helping resolve issues involving employees), performance management and annual reviews, advising on internal equity issues, assisting in headcount forecating, and advising managers and executives about legal implications of decisions made.

A lot of people get their foot in the proverbial door as some sort of administrative support professional such as a Recruiting or HR or Benefits Coordinator. Recruiting requires being very good at using Outlook or other calendaring software. HR and Benefits positions are highly administrative in nature, requiring a lot of filing, reporting, updating of collateral, and being a general resource for your team. Most of these positions don't require a college degree.

A good resource for anyone interested in HR is SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) at There is also a certification that is highly encouraged for HR professionals called the PHR (or SPHR). To be eligible, you must have a certain amount of HR experience under your belt.
Are You Making Too Many Excuses To Get Hired? Fri, 11 Jan 2013 10:24:35 -0800 Conquent
There is a discussion over on LinkedIn in one of the groups I belong to about being overqualified and undereducated for the job market. Obviously, most of the respondents are unhappy because they have a "ton" of experience but no one is hiring them because they are lacking a Bachelor's degree of some sort. Lots of ideas were thrown out, including having larger local companies host "career night" or "talent meet and greet" events where recruiters and hiring managers host an open house that people can attend to form connections and market themselves. The other complaint is that Applicant Tracking Systems are screening them out of jobs they are qualified for, so that their resumes are going into the dreaded "black hole" and that recruiters aren't even seeing their qualifications.

I explained how recruiters operate, and the basis for how ATS databases work. These are my responses:

Regarding industry hosted open houses: "Some companies do have open houses or host industry events. The problem for larger local companies is that most local candidates already have connections and can get an Employee Referral (the single most effective way both for a candidate and a recruiter to make quality connections) or introduction. Companies like Microsoft and Amazon, Starbucks and Boeing have such huge needs that the money and man hour investments in a local open house have a very low ROI. Local networking events like the East Side Networking and Seattle Job Social groups or industry MeetUps are far more effective.

I get at least half a dozen emails, phone calls, and LI requests for help with resume and job seeking 1:1 counseling every week. Unfortunately I don't have the time to devote to each and every request. I do try and help individuals move in the right direction via email or professional introductions/resources, but I cannot give personalized "service" to everyone that needs it, work a reasonable schedule at my job, and keep a healthy work-life balance. That was actually why I started a blog for job seekers: to help people understand what happens from the recruiting side of the equation. And I *do* regularly attend career fairs, speak on various professional panels, and go to networking events/mixers to try and connect with the local candidate pool. I know most recruiters help when/where they can with the general public, but it can be overwhelming. I generally work a (salaried) 50 hour week, like most industry professionals I know."

In reference to applicant databases: "I do understand where you are coming from, but the role of recruiting is to make the determination of a "good fit" in conjunction with our hiring managers. I think you have a perception that recruiting software automates the process to the point where there are resumes that recruiters never see. Recruiters eyeball *each applicant* and make the determination whether a given candidate is a fit. The system provides a framework (a relational database wherein each candidate record and each application are a 1:1 "transaction view"). I look at every resume on every job, including via LinkedIn, referrals, email/DM to me via LI, Twitter, etc. The "system" doesn't decide who I evaluate. All it does is provide a list of records linked in a logical and workable interface.

Boolean Searching (or keyword matching) is what we use to narrow the applicant records field down, and that is why it is critical that applicant resumes *match each job description by being tailored to the position type/s.* The truth is, if you don't have the skills required by the position, you aren't going to get the job. It doesn't matter if you are friends with the CEO; if you don't have the skills/experience/education needed to perform, you aren't a viable candidate.

There is a major component to the Recruiting profession called "sourcing" and this is defined as "going and finding candidates" from a variety of places. Companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks have dedicated teams of sourcers who look through databases, blogs, industry bios, their own ATS, talent communities, LinkedIn, FB, Google+ etc. to identify potential talent, generally based on profiles (ie Java developer, staff accountant, medical assistant, marketing manager, etc.) For my company, I function as both the sourcer and a full lifecycle recruiter for the Product teams. I have held several sourcing roles for various industries and companies (Legal, healthcare, technology) where that is all I did; find candidates and build both relationships with them and profile lists.

Returning to your original idea of "Career Night" I refer back to the fact that it isn't always practical in terms of time and money. It is the same concept as a career fair. If I go to a career fair during the work day, that means I take anywhere from 2-8+ hours out of my day to meet people. I end up making that time up either working longer, on the weekend, in the evenings. If my company hosts a career night/fair we have to have enough people (either employees or we have to pay for temps) to manage the logistics; if it is in the evening, we have to provide appropriate facilities including space (if in our own building that means extra security and set-up and tear down or renting space elsewhere), possibly refreshments, parking, etc. Unless I have a really high number of openings, it doesn't make sense.

Recruiting isn't about just sitting and waiting for candidates to find our jobs and apply, then letting a software program tell us who is qualified. It is about reaching out to talent, building relationships for current and future business openings, and managing vast amounts of data, the entire hiring process, and having a fairly in-depth knowledge of laws in a number of areas. The average recruiter has anywhere from 1-20+ openings at a time in the corporate world, in the agency area it can be as high as 40-50. Often those positions are several openings for the same type of role, so it becomes "profiles" vs. individual jobs, but each position is a separate transaction from start to finish so we have a multitude of ongoing projects in various stages at any given time. For example, right now I am working on 3 offers, two interview loops, several phone screens, and sourcing for all the positions that I don't have pending offers on."

The comments and discussion went on and on and on, with each person that feels cheated by the current methods of recruiting putting up more and more complaints that recruiters don't understand how hiring "should" work; that companies aren't making it easy for applicants to get their foot in the door; that just because they lack a Bachelor's doesn't mean they are less qualified; federal compliance regulations don't *really* matter and companies should have a wide enough definition of "qualified" to include years and years of experience.

I recently met with a seasoned Executive Assistant that is working for a company and is unhappy and hoping to make a change. A mutual acquaintance had suggested she talk to me about her resume and potential job search.

We went for coffee, and she gave me a copy of her resume. It had good bones, and I made only a couple of suggestions that could improve it. Then we started talking about what she is looking for.

1): She doesn't work for a company with too many processes/too much structure in place

I recommended that she look at smaller companies and start-ups. She responded that she didn't want to work at a start up because of the uncertainty, the low pay, and the fact that she would probably have to work way too many hours. She didn't think the benefits at a smaller company would give her enough insurance coverage.

2): I discussed how to optimize her resume for keyword searching via Applicant Tracking Systems. Keep in mind, my suggestions involved making about 4 small changes to her resume.

Her response? A company that used a computerized system to determine a skills fit is too impersonal for what she wants in an employer.

3) Her career has always been based on personal relationships; she has never had to "look for a job" and has always gotten referrals for openings. How do most people go about looking for a job when they already have one?

I told her that most people look for jobs to apply for on their lunch breaks, in the evening and on weekends. Interviewing may take some vacation/PTO time to accomplish. She went on to tell me that "oh I couldn't do that, it cuts into my personal time."

After throwing up all these objections, I finally asked her what her optimum choice would be.

"Preferably marrying someone rich so I could do what I want; either own my own business, or work at a boutique or maybe doing some meaningful volunteer work."

When I suggested she consider a match-maker that specializes in millionaire clients, she had an excuse for that too: "I don't think my boyfriend would like that."

I know job hunting is a long, slow, frustrating process. I have spent a good deal of my career contracting and *looking* for jobs. I try to help people as much as I can by sharing my expertise and explaining how recruiting and hiring works, why some things are done the way they are, and making suggestions so that job seekers can improve their chances. Be careful what you say/write, who you convey it to, and where/when you vent your frustrations.

"Total Compensation" and the Job Offer Tue, 15 Jan 2013 15:13:56 -0800 Conquent
Let's talk for just a minute about base salary. Everyone thinks that this is the most important part of any job offer, and while it certainly is of prime importance, it would be a mistake to decline a job offer just because the salary is lower than what you think you should be receiving. For example, if your employer offers you fully paid insurance coverage for your entire family and 25 days of PTO (paid time off), you may be looking at much more than the usual $5-10K most people usually try and negotiate on. (Believe it or not, $5-10K doesn't make that much of a difference in your weekly/bi-weekly/monthly take home pay unless you are making much less than the national average.) Let's say you have a family of 5, including your spouse and three children, one of whom is in college and the other two are under 18. Your spouse qualifies for their own health care insurance at work, and your company will pay for all your dependents (including your collegiate child until age 26.) Let's say that the premium is $200 for each of you per month. That is $12,000 for all five of you. For comparisons, assume you have an offer for $60K base salary and another for $70K with similar titles/responsibilities, but the $70K offer only pays for your premium (let's use the same $200 as a comparator) and only 25% of the premium for the rest of your dependents. That means that you will be paying $150 each month for each of your dependents, which lowers your annual salary by $7200, so you aren't looking at that big of a gap between the two offers after all.

Knowing what questions to ask during an offer negotiation will not only help you decide on the best choice for you, but the benefits and total compensation that a company invests in also can give you an idea about how well it treats its employees. If a company offers an above-average amount of perks to employees, it could indicate that management is willing to invest in the health and welfare of its staff, even as it impacts the bottom line. If there are better family coverage options such as childcare flexible spending accounts, that might also indicate a corporate culture where there are more working parents, equating to better work-life balance as a corporate value.

Getting To A Live Person At The Company Thu, 24 Jan 2013 13:26:45 -0800 Conquent
He mentioned one particular company he has been trying to contact about an opening, but nothing he has tried has gotten him to actually speak to a real person. So I shared with him a recruiting technique that, while it takes a lot of time, can be very effective at getting a live person on the phone. If you are trying to call, say, recruiting but don't have a name and try the main switchboard (if you are lucky enough to get a live operator, if not the corporate phone tree) you may not be able to reach someone.

This exercise is best done after business hours, as you are doing research, called "name generation" in recruiting. Call the main business number, then get to the "directory by name". Start with the A's...type "AAA" or "AAB" or "AAC", and then start mapping the corporate directory. Go to the first voice mail, write down the name of the person, their department or title, and if they list it their extension. Methodically go down the directory until you find contacts in the department/s of interest.

As a candidate you can further cross-reference your findings on LinkedIn to get the correct spelling of the name and full title. Call during business hours the next day until you reach the person of interest.

If you were to call my work voice mail, my greeting says, "You have reached Kristen Fife in recruiting. I am not able to take your call right now but if you leave me your name, telephone number including area code, and a brief message I will get back to you as soon as I am able." This is pretty standard practice at most companies. Obviously, at large companies like Microsoft, or IBM, etc this is a long and tedious process, but at small to medium sized companies it can be quite useful.

Remember, the goal is to get the attention of someone to have them look at your resume or talk to you about your skill set and fit for the position. When you do get hold of someone "live" make sure you have a short pitch line ready about what and why you are calling. "Hi, my name is Jane Doe. I was interested in an opening you have for a supply chain analyst on your website. I match all your requirements, and I have six years of experience at XYZ company working on the ABC product line." Keep it concise, but recruiters especially will appreciate the fact that you have considered your match for the position and may be able to pull you out of their queue for consideration.

The Realities of Relocation Thu, 7 Feb 2013 10:26:48 -0800 Conquent
Organizations typically offer relocation for jobs that are either highly niche (meaning very few people with the industry/position skills exist) or very high-level. Relocating someone has more downsides than upsides for most organizations. Usually anyone that accepts a job involving relocation needs more time before they can start a new job; it is expensive, and if you have courted someone that heavily, you have probably already spent money on plane/hotel for the interviews, and a sign-on bonus. Relocating isn't just about the prospective employee: it impacts their family as well. Leaving an established life including home, friends, careers, community ties, and schools if they have children. Every area has its own geographic culture, activities where people build their lives including religious affiliations, volunteer/civic activities, sports teams, involvement in the local art scene. Sometimes leaving is a blessing, but often if it is an uprooting. So the cost is not just financial, it is emotional as well. But for the right candidate, organizations are willing to provide the incentive. As a recruiter, part of *my* job is to help a candidate understand the local Seattle and Pacific Northwest culture. I'm probably as well versed (if not better) than real estate agents and Convention Center agents in all the aspects of living in Seattle! Relocation packages vary; they can be a lump sum that is enough to rent a Uhaul and cover gas or up to tens of thousands of dollars. The amount is generally determined by the base salary of the job and how difficult it is to find someone with that skill set. Most companies that offer relocation have specific tiered practices in place based on two factors: whether a new employee is a renter or a homeowner, and how senior the position is. I'd say the average (at least in the NW) tends to be between $2K-$20K. All the companies I have worked with that offer relocation work with relocation specialists for a fee.

If you are single without ties to any particular city/area, relocation can be infinitely easier and even a fresh start (that is why I ended up in the Northwest). The truth is, you can always go back. Cities rarely change much in a few years; people do. But the majority of organizations don't provide relocation below a certain level of expertise. If you are in an industry that has high turnover and doesn't require a very specific skill set, unless you are in management the chances that relocation will be offered with a new job are pretty slim. And, the truth is that there is probably plenty of local talent to fill that sort of job.

In this sort of circumstance, it is always easier to get a job if you either are already *in* your target city, or you indicate on your resume/profile that you are willing to provide your own relocation. That being said, there were several people on this conversation that were not making very much money, didn't have the savings available to them to get to Seattle (or any other city). Since I was in that exact position when I moved to the Northwest (I was in Portland, OR a year before I came to Seattle), here are some ideas on ways to make your "dream" come true; but be aware that you have to want it badly enough to make sacrifices and scrimp and save.

-Work 2-3 jobs if you need to and put the extra pay into an interest bearing savings account. Set yourself a goal and *don't touch the money* until you have achieved your goal.

-If you can, find friends/family members you can stay with in your new city and set a time limit on how long you would be squatting. In that same vein: join Couch Surfing (

-Look for jobs on Craigslist and through community resource centers that help pair the elderly with a live-in aid. You get reduced/free room and board in exchange for cooking, light housework, running errands with/for the home owner. Look for summer babysitting/nanny opportunities, or working in theme parks/seasonal industries. (Be prepared for background checks to work with the elderly/children.)

-Try house/pet sitting. Low cost to start, and dog walking can also be a great way of getting exercise and learning the local neighborhoods. During the last major financial crisis in 2000, I personally know two people that developed pet sitting/dog walking businesses and did better than most people during that time.

-Register with temp agencies. If you do it a national agency (think Kelly Services, Adecco, Volt) you may be able to change offices and still have a successful employment records; I did that when I moved to Portland and it helped me find a job within less than a month.

-Housing is usually fairly cheap in the University district of any large city if you share living quarters with students. They also don't generally have long leases, and if you move in with an existing household, you may not even need to go through a credit check and your deposit may be lower.

-Research to see if there is a hostel in the city; Seattle has several of them. They are much more popular in Europe but they are an economic way of finding a place to stay.

-Check out the minimum wage and use a cost of living calculator to determine if you can get by for a few months with a job in retail or hospitality until you find a something in the field you are looking for (these industries have flexible hours that allow you to interview during the day.) If you are sharing housing with at least 1-2 other people, you can usually keep your living expenses down.

As I pointed out in the discussion on LinkedIn, WA state has the highest minimum wage in the country (at $9.19/hour) and it is a living wage if you cut your actual living expenses down. Do your homework.

If you are on a tight budget, consider moving to a city with a good public transportation system; sell your car and take the train out. You can take more luggage on a train than on a plane, and it's generally cheaper (I moved out from Cincinnati via Amtrak to Portland.) You can generally survive on public transportation for a year in a new city. If you are driving, make your trip during the summer months so you can camp in national parks so you don't have to stay in motels the entire way. You can get from WA to FL or CA to NH in 3-4 days driving. If you have someone driving with you, you can take shifts and make it in even less time.

Many people need to start over at some point in their lives. It isn't always easy, it generally isn't cheap, but it can be done. Just be aware that sometimes you have to create your own opportunities.

LinkedIn for Professional Writers Tue, 19 Feb 2013 11:44:41 -0800 Conquent
I now have some clout as a former career advice columnist with the Seattle Times, and I am on the Board of Directors for a local non-profit that offers annual writing workshops. In the last seven years, I have become somewhat familiar with the business of being a writer. As a recruiter, I have to say that it appalls me how many hopeful writers don't treat their careers with the same thoughtfulness that they would any other job. I'm seeing more and more of this on LinkedIn, where I belong to several writer-centric groups. I have written a guest blog for a friend that is a freelance writer on how to use/not use LinkedIn for writers, and I'm going to expand upon it here.

LinkedIn Errors For Writers:

*Never post anything that isn't properly capitalized, spell-checked, or punctuated. Ever.

*Join groups/discussions and do absolutely nothing but promote yourself (your book/article, blog, appearances, etc.).

*Contact the wrong person; don't email the CEO of an agency when there are four agents that are accepting submissions in your genre at the agency.

*Get into inflammatory discussions on public forums. Remember that 1) LinkedIn is an international, multi-cultural venue 2) it is just as valid to pursue self publishing, Print on Demand, and ePublishing as it is a traditional publishing house; different writers have different needs 3) this is about building COMMUNITY; differing opinions and tastes add to the experience, not diminish it.

*Constantly name drop; it's annoying.

*Not be clear when asking for something/information. Make sure you use enough details when you are starting a discussion or asking a question. "Concise" should not be "cryptic". Conversely, don't ramble on and on.

*Use LinkedIn as a substitute for proper submissions.

*Badmouth industry professionals. This includes writers/authors, agents, editors, publishing houses, publications, etc. This is the fastest way to get a bad reputation.

*Send generic "I want to add you to my professional network" invitations. Freelance writers and authors should put EXTRA effort into contacting industry professionals.

*Post responses to questions or discussions that have already been said.

*Ask for recommendations or endorsements from people that barely (or don't) know your work.

*Post questions to the writing community that you could have answered yourself with one Google search.

*Get into dissenting discussions on religion, politics, or other "controversial" topics. Writers of any sort need to keep as much objectivity as possible.

*Over-post profile updates. LinkedIn is not Twitter or Facebook. Your "update" field should be used sparingly and for important things (like your upcoming release, or the contest on your website for readers, really interesting industry articles or announcements.)

*Have a profile that tries to show you as an expert in fifteen different things. If you are using LinkedIn as a writer, make sure your profile brands you as a writer (or agent, or editor.)

*Neglect an online portfolio. There are several apps you can use for free.

I would have to say that the two related errors that irritate me the most: "Not be clear when asking for something/information. Make sure you use enough details when you are starting a discussion or asking a question. "Concise" should not be "cryptic". Conversely, don't ramble on and on" and "Posting a question that you could have answered yourself with one Google search."

A recent example is:
"Anyone had any problems getting their work published? Does anyone know of any agencies who take on new writers? "

That's it. My response: "What do you mean by "problems"? Of course there are agencies that take on new writers; what kind of research have *you* done? What is your genre and how far along in the process are you? (i.e. do you have a completed manuscript for submission?)

The first thing I think when I see something like this is that the person that posted the question cannot write, and has never done any research; the second is that they are lazy. The truth of the matter is that "writing" is one of the most well-documented professions out there. More self-help books, blogs, and articles exist on "how to be a writer" than just about any other profession known to modern man. Being lazy like this sets the tone for your *professional brand as a writer*. To be honest, when someone posts something like this, asking if anyone else has ever had "problems" getting their work published, I also think that they probably aren't a very good writer, and that could be anything from not getting appropriate critiques, to not editing their work, to using poor grammar and spelling, to not following publishing submission guidelines posted.

Remember that LinkedIn is a professional forum, and especially as a writer you must be thoughtful about how/what you post. If you are a beginning writer, treat writing as a profession and follow the same guidelines you would for any other job.
Marissa Mayer and the Change in Yahoo's Remote Workforce Mon, 25 Feb 2013 10:42:26 -0800 Conquent
Detractors are decrying this business decision, and I would like to point out a few things.

1) Marissa Mayer was hired to turn around a failing, irrelevant business. She was hired from Google, a company that is *known* for a close, collaborative atmosphere. If you have ever been to a Google office, you know that the company, one of the top 3 most successful brands *in the world*, does everything possible to make employees WANT to be there and work.

2) There is no mention of whether or not the remote culture was successful. My guess is that the company did an analysis of productivity and found that remote workers were less productive than they used to be. Obviously something isn't working for the business given their numbers the last few years.

3) The individuals that are so negative regarding this decision do not know that this is a permanent status; it may very well be a temporary decision for the company.

4) The outrage seems to be that Yahoo! isn't valuing the "need" for parents to have a flexible schedule for work life balance. Yahoo! isn't a daycare; it is a BUSINESS. If adults choose to have careers and families, it is their responsibility to make their lives balance, not their employer's. Employees are certainly free to seek other employment options if these changes don't "work" for them.

There are several large companies in the last few years that have had remote work forces that have made major cuts: Sun Microsystems and IBM both come to mind. I personally have friends at both companies that were adversely affected and were working from home. Both of them have had to move (one across country, one two states) to find jobs to support themselves.

I personally applaud Marissa Mayer for having the conviction to make changes and build a culture of productivity and collaboration. The future is flexible, especially in technology. We don't know what the future holds and whether this change will herald a revitalized Yahoo! or be a business debacle. Either way, change is definitely needed. ]]>
Building Your Online Brand Thu, 7 Mar 2013 20:01:59 -0800 Conquent
My brand tends to revolve in two different main categories: recruiting/HR and career management, and writing/publishing. Being a well-known recruiter in Seattle and other markets is a byproduct of my career choices. I would like to state, for the record, that I did not “choose” recruiting; it chose me. Before I got into recruiting, I did a lot of content management (via content management systems and databases) and prior to that mostly I worked in administrative or customer service roles. My career was not planned, it was accidental and the result of me taking chances, seizing opportunities, and learning as much and as quickly as I could to build a diversified skill set. So the content management piece is truly the bedrock of my online presence, coupled with my 10 years in recruiting/HR. I’ve been writing since just before I got into recruiting, so they are somewhat synonymous.

So let’s define a couple of concepts: “online” and “brand”.

When I talk “online” I mean it all: social media, pictures, articles and research papers, your high school yearbook, the synagogue directory that publishes your cell phone number, the online petition you signed in 1992 banning xyz in your community. Yes, that’s right. There are things online that you may not even be aware of. I am an expert researcher when it comes to finding people. I was once challenged with finding contact information from a friend for a mutual favorite actor. An hour later, I had his cell phone number and called it. His daughter answered (I asked for someone ridiculous and she said “no, this is X”). It was on a tennis club directory in his hometown. My point is, there is a lot more than you think online with your name on it. You cannot control everything, but you can consciously create a professional brand in the areas you want to be recognized as an expert, and when you have enough of an online footprint, some of the more esoteric items fall far away as less important.

Now for your brand. Very simply this is an image, concept, profession, or “persona” (if you will) that you want to be recognized as. You can deliberately manage this, or you can let it evolve organically. If you choose not to manage your brand, be aware that it can be the subject of negative influence from others.
This piece is about deliberately managing your brand, and doing so online. How are some ways you can create a recognizable, strong positive brand?

-Decide on how you want to be recognized. By your profession? Are you trying to use your name or another sort of persona to define your brand? A unique concept? Your hobby? Keep in mind that two things are going to be the easiest to manage: either your name (unless you have a common name like “Joe Smith”) or a strong, singular concept, possibly including a nickname. Use it for you social media profiles like your Twitter handle, Pinterest identity, and make sure it’s part of your LinkedIn profile and your blog.

-What is your “angle” as an expert? In my case, my blog melds my experience as a recruiter and writer in a no-nonsense series of articles about job hunting from the hiring side of the equation. I had a career-advice column on the Seattle Times, I’m well-known in the local recruiting and tech communities, and this is how I have concentrated my own brand. One of my professional colleagues is a Talent Sourcer, and her brand is “Research Goddess” (and yes, she is.) Even my volunteer work involves recruiting and onboarding for the local chapter of an international non-profit. To create a strong “brand” you need to have a consistent message and voice, if you will. You don’t want to be just one more widget maker from New York. What makes YOU the best, most knowledgable widgeteer in the Big Apple?! (Notice the self-created title and referring to New York City by its casual moniker? That is branding.)

-Share information. This means building community with your peers/colleagues, and anyone else you might want to “know” you! Tweet articles of interest; comment on blogs (and write one!); if you disagree with something written, professionally state *why* you don’t and support it with your expertise. Thoughtfully disagreeing with something online is a great way to create an intricate reputation as someone that is “in the know”. Join LinkedIn groups relevant to your brand, and answer questions. Ask them if appropriate (but see my blog on “LinkedIn for Professional Writers” on how not to use LinkedIn.) Start a Pinterest board that has to do with your online brand and persona, and share the pins with your Facebook and Twitter followers and friends.

-Be a “curator”. Nowadays, content is king; but what if you don’t know how or don’t have enough time to create a stellar amount of content (highly unlikely given the rise of Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook images)? Become a “curator”, which means you create a centralized repository of information. In the old days (you know, the 20th century) this concept would have been akin to a portal. Here is a great <a href="">primer</a>. Curation is about you creating and maintaining (that is a key concept) a repository of online content grouped around a specific theme. You create a destination for people of like minds/interests to your own.

-Let the “real you” shine through in some places. These days everyone connects with their online personas, and if you are all business all the time, you come across as shallow or insincere. So don’t be afraid to put a little bit of personality into your online branding. An example would be my twitter account. I post a few things every now and then about books, travel, favorite bands, and hobbies that are not going to be considered in poor taste. I retweet and “favorite” certain amusing tweets just because they appeal to me, and follow public celebrities, but I am mindful not to do so with things that could be considered slanderous or highly controversial. An occasional picture of your dog, or a video from your vacation in Disneyland add a bit of personality to your online social persona. On Facebook, I often will post “Dear…(Candidate, Hiring Manager, Colleague)” amusing anecdotal “rants”. (A recent example: “Dear Colleagues: I know this may come as a total shock to you, but we in recruiting use your Outlook calendar to schedule interviews and meetings. This means we assume your calendar is up to date. As Nike says: JUST DO IT. Lack of planning on your part does not create an emergency on mine. Ciao.”)

-Keep your truly private life and your public persona separate. When Facebook recently changed their policies about searchability, I changed my private account by using a nickname for my display name, and I opened a new public account under my full name (including my middle initial and a different email address.) My private wall is where I share my views on politics, social issues, and details about my family life. I don’t want my friends and family to have *their* information revealed via a search for me and my views on things such as women’s rights or religion. As a recruiter, I am highly visible just because I’m posting jobs regularly.

-Create some sort of portfolio. Most people think you have to be in some sort of “creative” career to have a portfolio, but that isn’t true. If you are a software engineer, it will be coding samples. If you are a mechanic, it can be photos of work you have done (before/after shots) and discuss technique. A stock broker can have graphic representations of his successful wealth management strategies. A real estate agent should obviously have photos of the houses she has sold. An attorney can have a list of cases won and any articles or briefs published that are public record. A retail associate can take photos of products and outfits created/sold. It’s about merchandizing *yourself* in ways that are going to make sense to other people.

-Become well enough established in your local community that people ask you to speak on panels and deliver keynote addresses or teach seminars/classes. Record these sessions and then create a Youtube channel/podcast station, then cross-promote your expertise on all your social media channels. Put your presentation decks on Slideshare (keep them password protected and view-only to protect your intellectual property.) Create a reputation for yourself in the community as someone willing to chat and share knowledge. Be open and offer to conduct informational interviews to your local careercenters at colleges and the unemployment office. Volunteer for <a href=""> SCORE</a>. Make the acquaintance of independent reporters, and be quoted in news media articles of interest in your profession.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of ideas, but it should be enough for anyone to get a start. If you are job hunting or have thrown out your own shingle, this sort of activity is *crucial* to you to stand out from the competition. And as any recent college graduate or over-50 unemployed executive can tell you, it’s a jungle out there.

Some Thoughts On Freelancing Wed, 20 Mar 2013 19:58:27 -0800 Conquent
At the other end of the spectrum, you will find the Boomers and older GenX'ers, and many of them have "put out their shingles" out of necessity. In a recession, many companies have been loath to hire older professionals with decades of experience. There are still very few industries and companies that provide "exit strategies" for aging professional populations. There does come a point in a professional's life when they are ready to start winding down, and unfortunately it isn't always easy to do so without looking like you are "giving up." More mature workers still have bills to pay, children in college, and retirement savings to contribute to.

There is also a band in the middle, those professionals that have chosen to be freelance professionals for a variety of reasons, many of them having to do with work-life balance. I know several professionals (especially women) in their mid-thirties to early forties that decided to go the freelance route to devote time to their young families. Often these professionals have a spouse or partner that can provide benefits, a steady paycheck, and some stability.

Some professions will always be "freelance"; authors, artists, and solo musicians often are freelance professionals by default. Real estate agents, many bookkeepers, accountants, massage therapists, hair stylists are almost all are considered "freelance" if they aren't employed by corporations. There are advantages and disadvantages to the freelance lifestyle. I was recently looking for a part-time graphic designer to work onsite 20 hours a week. It's a great opportunity for someone that has a solo business but also wants to have some stability and get a steady paycheck. I will say that almost every professional that we brought back for a second interview was someone that was excited about collaborating with a team, being in an atmosphere where there is an energy to the work space. The person we just made an offer to was *genuinely excited* about the opportunity, in contrast to the other five people we considered. One of the biggest drawbacks for many solo practitioners is the isolation of not having regular contact with colleagues.

I have interviewed a lot of freelance or small business consultants over the last few years. One of my close friends finally had to close up shop after over ten years because of the overhead cost, and an offer to work for a company managing their on-site consulting at a Fortune 100 company. He was sad at losing his autonomy, the office he had gone to every day, and there was a sense of failure. On the flip side, he didn't have to worry about trying to sell his services, he now gets to concentrate on what he is good at, has full health benefits, he gets a regular paycheck and doesn't stress about paying the bills. It was a positive tradeoff for him.

Most people starting out forget that a major part of your efforts are going to be related to *running a business* and *developing your client base* (read: sales and marketing). Make sure you understand the costs you are going to incur as you figure out your fee scale. Know the tax laws for your city/county/state, and hire yourself a good accountant. Get your business license before you do *anything else*. (Check your state's website under "licensing" for information on filing a business license.) Keep your personal and professional monies separate. Pay yourself only out of the profits from your business after you satisfy the costs you have (things like taxes, supplies, electricity, your health care and 401k contributions, your internet connection/website hosting fees, cell phone bill, etc.) Just remember, if you are setting out on your own, your business is with you 24x7, and no one else will do it for you. Get EVERYTHING in writing; bids, contracts, invoices. In this day and age, you are only as good as your business practices. The money you make is built on your own sales efforts and expertise at whatever you do professionally. Keep your reputation clean, and if a client doesn't treat you professionally, remember that you can pull out of the relationship at any time.

I found this great calculator a few years ago which is very helpful <a href="">for budgeting</a> .

If you don't know what you should be making as a salaried employee, check out either <a href=""></a> or <a href=""></a> by zip code.

Being independent is great for some people, and not so much for others. Only you can make that determination and make a go of it in the business world.
Confidentiality and Protecting Your Professional Network Wed, 27 Mar 2013 18:52:26 -0800 Conquent
<a href=",9171,2058205,00.html/" target="_blank">Data Mining: How Companies Now Know Everything About You

<a href="" target="_blank">How Facebook Plans On Using Your Prescription Drug Purchase History, And How To Stop Them!</a>

<a href="" target="_blank">I'm Being Followed: How Google—and 104 Other Companies—Are Tracking Me on the Web!</a>

There is a conversation going on over on LinkedIn. A gentleman was asking for recommendations and contact info for his adult son for a PT job at a specific type of restaurant. He also stated that he had already “gotten him a job” elsewhere and everyone “loved” his son as an employee.

I chimed in with a couple of recommendations for the places to look into, and then made the observation that from a recruiting perspective, I would rather see his son asking for what he needs, as he is the candidate and the “product”.

To make a long story short (I made some observations about the appearance of overparenting, a suggestion on using the LinkedIn mobile app, and how great a skill it would be for his son to learn to network himself for a job), I apparently touched a nerve. I was pretty much told that I don’t know what I’m talking about, and that all he was looking for was contact information for his kid for a job thankyouverymuch.

The reason I relay this information is because never, in a thousand years, would I *ever* give out the contact information of a business owner or CEO of a company of any size to a third party regarding a job, just as I would never give someone’s resume to another recruiter/company without the candidate’s express permission or request.

I have some very highly placed contacts in my professional network on a global scale. They have entrusted me with their business acquaintanceship and contact information with the understanding that I will not just give it away to anyone who might ask. From a human resources and legal perspective, it is a serious breach of ethics for me to just give someone’s resume and contact information away without the candidate’s express permission. I am happy to facilitate connections, but I’m not going to do it on a third-party basis. To be blunt, how do *I* know this guy was really looking to help his kid, or trying to drum up names for a sales pitch? Especially after taking such offense to my observations (he "doth protest too much, methinks".)

I am perfectly willing to take responsibility for my own information and how it is acquired and used, but I feel very strongly about my rights and responsibilities with *other* people’s information. If someone is looking for a job and I have information that might be beneficial in their search, I expect them to contact me directly to make the request.

Effective Networking for College Students for Internships and Jobs Wed, 3 Apr 2013 13:01:01 -0800 Conquent
One of the most ineffective ways to approach networking is to go online into a forum, community, or group and say, "Hi! I'm looking for an internship in New York city in marketing. Please message me if you know of anything!" Have you ever heard the old cliche of shooting fish in a barrel? Well, spread that out to shooting in the ocean for a shrimp. This is not how "networking" works. You are not building those one to one relationships and asking someone for a *reasonable* favor. It also leaves a poor impression with people that could be in a position to help you.

The professional world is built on an economy of trading...favors, money, expertise/information and even in some industries, human capital (recruiters share resumes quite frequently if candidates allow it.) But these transactions occur because the people involved have built a level of trust and respect for one another. This happens on a number of levels, but the most important is by reputation. Do you say you are going to do something and consistently follow through? Are your "transactions" generally of high quality? Is your information/expertise correct and valuable? So for you, as a student, to just throw out a plea for something to be given to you with absolutely no context as to your reputation or worth at the very least shows that you don't understand the business world (which is forgivable to a degree due to inexperience) but also shows an attitude of being expected to have things handed to you without even forming a personal relationship.

Let's use LinkedIn as this is where the largest number of offenders are. For the sake of argument, let's say someone in my university alumni group throws out a plea of, "Hello, I'm graduating in May with a degree in finance. Please let me know if you hear of any job openings." This is ludicrous. There are tens of thousands of graduates at every level and within a huge set of industries. First of all, I went to school in Ohio (which is where I grew up), but I've been in the Pacific Northwest for well over 15 years. Being a recruiter, I may know about a ton of openings along the I-5 corridor (running from Vancouver BC in Canada down to the Mexican border with major population hubs in Seattle, Portland, Silicon Valley, LA and San Diego), but that may not be at all helpful or attractive to someone in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kentucky or Illinois which are the neighboring states to Ohio.

Take the time to craft a note, and ask for something specific from individuals. Look for people that are either managers, in HR/Recruiting, or fairly highly placed (Director, GM, or C-level) at target companies, or at the very least target industries. And this bears repeating: do not neglect your parents' networks; most of their friends are at the right age to either be a hiring manager or know them. Be detailed and give them a reason why you are contacting them.

"Kristen, I see that you are a technical recruiter in Seattle for RealNetworks. I am interested in opportunities on the West Coast for entry level mobile development opportunities, and was wondering if I could set up time to chat, or if you had suggestions about companies I could target in WA and CA."

"Bob, I will be graduating from OU this May, and I am interested in the opportunity to discuss potential companies that might be hiring accounting majors. I am looking at X, Y, and Z and I see you have contacts in all three of my target companies."

"Jill, I am a junior studying fashion merchandising at IU, and I see that you have a contact at Macy's in New York City. I have a 4.0 in my major and recently finished a capstone project that would be immediately applicable. Would you be willing to forward a request for an introduction to Tom in the HR department at Macy's?"

Being polished is essential to get you ahead in the business world. With the amount of data available to you, networking the right way is much easier than it was 20 years ago. Do your homework, have the information available, then ask for help. ]]>
What Kinds of Questions Should I Ask During Interviews/Phone Screens? Wed, 10 Apr 2013 16:56:52 -0800 Conquent
• Your general communication style- will you be able to handle the organization’s full-on interview process?
• Overall functional fit; do your skills and background generally map to what the company needs?
• Cultural fit – how you communicate and what you say can be a reflection of how you will fit in with other members of the team based on the existing dynamics.
• Interest and understanding of the role – on both sides. Do you understand the role (this is a vital point for you, the job seeker, if the job description was vague or very broad), are you truly interested?
• Mutually agreeable employment expectations: items such as salary, commutability, (if needed) visa sponsorship options, core business hours/location.

I had a phone screen today with a candidate for a mid-level technical role that he had applied for. I had to reschedule the phone call once due to illness last week, so the candidate had plenty of time to look up our company, our products and industry views on the company. When I asked him if he had any questions for me, the first thing he asked is: “What does your company do?” The second question was “Where are you located?” I work for a publicly traded company that has been in Seattle for almost 20 years; we are in the tech industry and have a robust website. He has lived in the area longer than the company has been around and *he* applied directly to our position. Needless to say that his lack of preparation was an indication that he wasn’t a cultural fit. (Take these as examples of what NOT to ask.)

An initial phone call is a time to ask general questions about the role, expectations, the team, specific questions about the company such as product placement, leadership, market penetration, the recruiting process, expectations for the person hired into the position, where they are in the process, and how you compare to other candidates. These should be questions you have formulated based on your own research (press releases, financial reports, consumer reports, industry reviews, comments on Glass Door or Vault.) If you are speaking to someone in HR/Recruiting, it is also appropriate to talk money in general terms (as in a range, or what you are making now and hope to make going forward.) It is inappropriate to ask about promotional opportunities, vacation time, and benefits.

If an initial phone screen goes well, you will likely be invited to the organization’s offices to interview. If you are a local candidate, this should be pretty simple. Ask what to expect from the interviews: how long will you be on site, are the interviews one on one or panel, dress code suggestions, specific ways to prepare for your meetings? If you are a fly-in candidate, there are a few questions you might want to ask the recruiter/coordinator that is working on your travel arrangements. The most important question should be whether you will need to pay for any expenses yourself and get reimbursed, and what is not reimbursable. This can be a huge question for candidates that are tight on money. Keep in mind that most organizations will be willing to pay for one night (possibly two) at a hotel, but if you want to stay longer you will need to pay for those extra nights. Flights usually aren’t that much of an issue, since it doesn’t matter when you travel. Also ask if there is a per diem for reimbursable food/beverage expenses. If you live within driving distance and prefer to drive, it is perfectly reasonable to ask how much you would be reimbursed for mileage for the trip. If you are close enough, you can also ask for a rail ticket instead of an airline if you prefer to go that route.

On-Site Interviews
Once you are invited on-site for an interview, questions become tougher and more on-point. I’ve covered interviews before, so I am going to stick to questions that you as the candidate should think about asking. In my mind, there are a few types of questions you should be asking any given interviewer. The first is clarification and further understanding about the role you are interviewing for; what are the responsibilities or expectations for this position, how will success be measured, how does it fit within the immediate team and the business unit of the organization overall, why is the position open (growth or backfill, and if it is a backfill what was the prior holder of the role like, is this role different/expanded from what s/he did?), what tools or processes are in use or on the horizon? The second type is about the interviewer personally – how (and if) will they be interfacing with the role you are discussing, why are they on the interview loop, what is their background, how do they feel about the team, the company, the industry, and what they are looking specifically for in a candidate for this role. When you are asking questions specifically about the role, the team, and the company make sure you don’t repeat the same question to every interviewer. Show that you have gotten and synthesized the information you have already gleaned from other discussions.

One type of interview confuses a lot of candidates, and that is the “lunch interview”. This time can be scheduled a number of different ways. You can be put in a more casual situation where you meet with one or more members of the team; you might have a more intense one on one with the hiring manager, or you may meet with someone completely outside the organization (such as someone from HR.) If you are meeting casually with the team, or with someone not from the organization relax a little, try and eat some food, and answer questions as they come up. If you are meeting with the hiring manager, this is an opportunity to ask more in depth questions or clarify anything that might be on your mind.
Remember, interviews are as much a chance for you to learn as the potential employer. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn as much as you can to make an informed decision, regardless of the outcome.

When Should I Consider A Career Counselor? Fri, 26 Apr 2013 16:51:09 -0800 Conquent
What does (and doesn't) a career counselor do?
The most important thing to understand about career counselors is that they are *not* recruiters or headhunters; they will not "find you a job". Career counselors help you identify career options and directions that are right for you at various stages of your professional life. They may use psychological testing to help you identify strengths or weaknesses that are either interfering with your current satisfaction or possibly to switch direction. They can also help you with evaluating educational programs, including vocational training if needed. <a href="">The National Career Development Association </a> has some in-depth information regarding how Career Counselors can help a professional or student out. You should come away with a very clear goal and roadmap to achieve those goals.

During a job search, a Career Counselor may help you with some of the practical aspects of your journey such as helping you with updating your resume (see my post on <a href="">questions to ask</a>), cover letter construction, and interview practice including mock interview scenarios.

Keep in mind that a Career Counselor is different than a Career Consultant. A Counselor is held to specific standards including education, experience, credentialing, and professional oversight. A Consultant is not. That isn't to say that a Career Consultant isn't an option. For example, I am a Resume Consultant which is a very narrow subset of the field but absolutely vital for a job seeker.

The cost and process will vary, but in the end you should find yourself with clarity of purpose, equipped with tools and techniques to explore career options that are right for you, and a renewed self-confidence about your professional persona.
Industry Profiles – Full Time Employees - Professional Writer Thu, 9 May 2013 17:30:28 -0800 Conquent
I’m going to break the “writer” profession into separate postings. First I will cover full-time employees that are paid to write, then freelance professionals and finally I will wrap up with a discussion on published authors (books).

There was a discussion over on LinkedIn a few weeks ago about finding “creative writing jobs”. There are very few “jobs” that will pay you to be a creative writer. If you are being paid to write something, you don’t have carte blanche to write your own content and expect someone else to monetize it. Generally, you are given content subjects, writing guides/style manuals, a specific word count, and a strict deadline. The person that started the discussion wanted someone to offer him a salaried position to write poetry. About the only “job” you will get in this medium is working for a greeting card company.

So what sorts of jobs can you get as a paid, professional writer on a salary? Advertising and PR firms still hire writers to work on branding slogans/campaigns for clients. That is about the best “creative” writing job you will get, but it’s still going to be someone else’s guidelines. The “marcomm” role has changed significantly over the last decade or so (Marketing Communications) as marketing as an industry has changed (see my prior posting on the Marketing Industry). A lot of young professionals want to be “social media” content writers/editors/managers. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t all about writing 140-character pithy pitches. This a pure marketing job that delivers analytics-based campaigns supporting the corporate branding strategy. These days, “marketing” communications as it relates to generating content is a small portion of a larger position.

The time-honored “Technical Writer” role was a haven for many English and Communications majors graduating in the late 80’s and through the 90’s. The technical writer is mainly employed in two industries: technology/software, and the scientific/life sciences arena. The role of the tech writer is to take technical/scientific concepts and “translate” them for people. For example, the “help” function in any software program is often written by a technical writer; white papers, help manuals, design specifications, business analyses. But, as you can imagine, this skill is used in conjunction with another: deep expertise in a technical/scientific realm. There is a fair amount of research that is done with other professionals within the organization in order to create a comprehensive set of information. That being said, I queried several friends that have been long-time Tech Writers, and the consensus is that you need to able to learn a vast array of subjects, digest them, and then “translate” that information back into understandable language for the lay person. The more you can do that, the more employable you are. If you are able to learn those technical or scientific concepts that need “translation” then that is your most applicable skill. I have seen a shift in the tech realm away from the profession of “technical writer” towards an inclusion of the role into “human centered design”, a philosophy that mixes usability and product management.

In a related vein, if you are interested in the non-profit world, there are organizations that employ grant writers. This is a very specialized skill, as each grant award has very specific guidelines and you have to learn the ins and outs of the process. I asked a good friend of mine who writes grants regularly for her scientific research job how one would go about *getting* a grant writing job with no experience, and this was her suggestion: “I suggest they team up with an experienced writer. I got my start with non-profits by volunteering. The best way to learn to write grants, in my opinion, is to find successful grant applications. My first 100% self-written grant, I got other T32s, and followed the format.”
If you really enjoy learning something really well and then writing about it, there may be positions in law or government, including attorneys (they write extensively, mostly “briefs”), paralegals, speech-writers, congressional aides, and lobbyists. Of course becoming an attorney means going to law school, but a law degree can open up a lot of doors involving writing and communication overall.

Journalists do still exist, although full time, paid-by-a-paper-or-magazine roles are quickly diminishing as the face of the publishing industry is changing. You might have luck writing copy for a local news station (TV/Radio), or else you will want to work for a publication with a fairly large circulation. Most of the jobs for magazines and larger publishing entities are going to be in New York City. In the same vein, you may find jobs as a copywriter or copy editor at those same publications, but a full-time position is now the exception rather than the norm.

So let’s segue into publication, as it’s a good transition. These days, most editors, copywriters, and journalists are self-employed freelancers. With the advent of the internet, e-books like the Kindle and the Nook, the need for full time publishing house editors and copywriters has fallen drastically. The majority of newspapers and magazines have had articles submitted by freelance journalists for decades. “Publishing” is changing drastically. Newspapers are being replaced by news aggregators. Magazines are still in existence, but most of them are online now and if they hope to continue making money, it is my opinion that they will eventually go all digital. There are still editorial positions here and there at traditional publishing houses, major newspaper/magazines, and sometimes you can get a job as an editor working for a literary agent (you may end up becoming an agent as well.) But most of what you do as an agent is read, not write. The same with publishing houses/publications. The role of the editor is to fix bad writing, so you need to know/understand that if you decide to go this route. New/junior editors at traditional publishing houses in New York are known to be woefully underpaid, and several of my own personal contacts had to work second or even third jobs to pay their bills until they had a decade or more under their belts.

"Jobs", as in full-time paid employee status, for writers are diminishing quite a bit. However, freelance opportunities and a variety of different publishing options are increasing daily.
Industry Profile - Freelance Writing Career Options Sun, 23 Jun 2013 07:56:58 -0800 Conquent
When approaching the career of being a "freelance writer" it is absolutely vital to understand that this is a BUSINESS, which means that you cannot neglect the business side of your career. This includes a business license, tax ID number, learning what/how to declare business expenses, looking at your business development and marketing options/expenses (sales and advertising), managing your finances on both the business and personal sides, and providing yourself and your family with health benefits. Being a "writer" is not just about having great ideas and committing them to pen/paper or keyboard/screen. Far too many people neglect the setup of *being* a small business owner. I covered some of the tools and aspects of this in my post on the freelance lifestyle, so I'm not going to go into the mechanics of that here. What I do want to address is more the publishing industry and the changes it has undergone in the last decade.

Some of my neighbors are retired publishing sales reps, and the daugther of a colleague of mine is an editor for a major NYC publishing company. I worked at in the late 90's and have been in technology in some capacity for most of the last 15 years. I have been a "professional" writer for about the last 7 years (meaning people have paid me to write or develop content in some way; emphasis being on "paid". Until you receive money for your efforts, it is a hobby and you are an amateur). I have been on the Board of Directors for a local non-profit that puts on writer's conferences, and I have been treating my writing career as I would any other job: getting to know the industry, how the job works, and how to be successful at it. I must say that I am shocked by how many writers DON'T do this.

I'm going to start with personal anecdote. When I was pursuing my bachelor's degree, I went the "liberal arts" route. It is where I am strongest in terms of interest and skills, but I graduated woefully unprepared for finding a "job". I love history and the development of cultures in general, and with a Classical Humanities background, I had a vague idea of going into historical research for some sort of publication such as National Geographic, or the Smithsonian Magazine. Little did I know that: those positions generally require a Master's; they are few and far between; to do it professionally they require relocation to DC or NYC, neither of which I wanted to move to at the time. I spent a significant portion of my professional life defining myself, making very little money, and figuring out what I am really good at. The reason I bring this up is because if you are going to pursue a career as a professional writer, you need to be aware of what it does and does not entail.

The pros of being an independent writer: you can choose your path and interests, for example maybe you love to travel and your decide to try and become a travel writer/blogger (travel bloggers that provide their own photos have slightly better odds of publication). Or you are a foodie and try to go the restaurant critic route. You can set your own hours, subject matter, etc. It is a flexible lifestyle and you can fit your work around your family and social life. If you become good and develop a reputation you are in demand and can pick and choose your assignments. The flip side to this hinges on what I just said: "...if you become good and develop a reputation". This is the downside to being an independent contractor. You need to scratch out a living by developing clients, submitting tons of ideas for articles and content to those entities that may be able to help boost your career signal. There are tons of "opportunities" out there to be published, to make your name, but without the benefit of being paid for it. There is a whole industry of "generating leads" for small media outlets that don't pay a cent for your work but promise you "exposure". Only you can decide if this is a route you want to pursue. I will say that there are a couple of legitimate outfits. Media Bistro is my favorite.

There has been a rise in the last few years of ad-supported content that actually will pay really hot bloggers, by hosting their site and then providing targeted ads for their potential readers (look at my post on <a href="">"Marketing"</a> to understand how this works.) Three of my favorite bloggers make their living this way: <a href="">Heather Dooce</a>, <a href="">Dan Pearce</a> (Single Dad Laughing) and <a href="">Jenny Lawson </a>, The Blogess. There are plenty of articles and blogs on how to make money as a professional blogger; I like this <a href="">one</a>. Each of them has a trademark style or subject matter that appeals to readers. Keep in mind that for this lifestyle to work, you must write content regularly, and what you say needs to be consistently appealing to a wide variety of readers.

One path that can lead to a fairly robust income stream (once you have an established reputation) is teaching workshops. I've paid to attend workshops on subject like travel writing and developing my writing style. You can do it locally (community college, special interest series, via a site like Media Bistro) or even as a webinar. If the content is compelling, people will pay to hear and learn. The key is to have a unique point of view and expertise. For example in my case, I earn money by applying my current knowledge of recruiting - tools, processes, compliance regulations - to help people by either writing or editing their resume, or by writing as a journalist for job seekers, or as a blogger for the recruiting industry.

There are still both full time and freelance opportunities for editors and literary agents, but it is very important to understand that in these professions you are not creating your own content, you are enhancing or peddling someone else's work. Editing is highly needed in today's world. I recently read a product blog for the new <a href="">Google Xphone</a> where a word in the *title* was spelled wrong, as well as a slang term (Customization and techie misspelled "custimization" and "techi", respectively). I was appalled but this is becoming more prevalent. An editor should have been able to spot these errors. Heck, *spell check* would have done the trick! I see an example of laziness. So, with an all new breed of self-published e-book authors, there is definitely a market for freelance editors.

Literary agents still exist, although I see this as a declining market, for the very reason that the need for editors is on the rise, namely self-publishing. A literary agent is basically a headhunter for those in the traditional book publishing realm. They represent authors and work to get manuscripts in front of publishers. It takes a good understanding of market conditions (what will sell), sales and marketing skills, the willingness to read a lot of material, follow through in terms of communication, the ability to build a great network (publishers), and a good understanding of industry contracts. Usually, an agent starts his/her career either as a publishing house editor, or working for a a large agency that has established relationships. It is a lot of account management and relationship building.

Writing is still the main form of human communication in the world. It is a changing profession, with a plethora of opportunities to try new forms of communication.
Passive-aggressive Business Behavior Fri, 6 Sep 2013 12:30:29 -0800 Conquent
First off I won't even dignify the manner of her "communication" with me as a touchstone as anything beyond highly disrespectful. And I am not unduly upset that she changed her mind. What has me boiling is the fact that she didn't give me the common courtesy of *telling* me immediately, either to address the issues and talk about it or else to just withdraw completely. Her excuses, "busy" and "we agreed to take the summer off" don't hold water in this respect. She and I live less than 5 miles apart and there is no excuse. This was conflict avoidance, pure and simple.

Today I had to call out an internal client for failing to hold up the SLA they had agreed to with me when it came to candidate/resume evaluation. The manager called a meeting, and when we got into it, stated "I'm not going to dwell on the past", which is a way of playing ostrich and refusing to own up and be accountable for mistakes that have been made. If this had been a first time for the same issue, it wouldn't even be a blip on my radar, but this has been a repeated pattern for the last couple of years.

I found a good in-depth <a href=””>article</a> that really clarifies and explains passive-aggressive behavior in general. I freely admit that this is a personal trigger of mine but the truth is, it is unacceptable in business. In a nutshell: "Instead of communicating honestly when you feel upset, annoyed, irritated or disappointed you may instead bottle the feelings up, shut off verbally, give angry looks, make obvious changes in behaviour, be obstructive, sulky or put up a stone wall. It may also involve indirectly resisting requests from others by evading or creating confusion around the issue. Not going along with things. It can either be covert (concealed and hidden) or overt (blatant and obvious)."

Dodging confrontation is huge in our culture; think about when you are out with friends and you meet someone cute and go on a date. One person is really into it, another is not. But the person that isn't interested says "I'll call" but never does and just blows off the other person. That is passive-aggressive. Rather than just saying "you know, I don't think we're a good match" it's become acceptable to just ignore people and hope they "get the message." It's disrespectful and hurts feelings way more than a polite and candid truth. In the business world, it manifests in a variety of ways, from not taking accountability for mistakes (passing the buck), to simply not responding to email that is critical, to not completing work or projects to the best of your abilities because you are unhappy with your job and as a "silent protest" and the hope that your employer will be forced to "do something" about it. It is also important to recognize that if you have any desire to go into a leadership role that it is a major barrier to progressing in your career.

Conflict, disagreements, and critical assessments in the workplace are not easy, but learning to manage them and the process is both good for self-esteem and for instilling respect from colleagues. ]]>
Industry Profile - Author Tue, 10 Sep 2013 07:42:13 -0800 Conquent
Once you do reach the stage where you feel ready to send your creation out into the world, you have one very important question to ask yourself: are you absolutely committed to your work as is, or are you open to changes? Because the truth is that unless you are ready to have it changed, re-worked, and otherwise edited, it is pointless to even consider trying the "traditional" publishing route. If you are open to having someone you have never met tell you they are interested if you make this, that or the other change, the next thing you need is a thick skin: rhino, elephant or armored tank thick. Because the odds are you will get rejected several if not dozens or hundreds of times.

If you are committed to keeping your baby "as is", you are looking at a couple of choices via the self-publishing route (this includes epublication such as an ebook via Amazon). In the hard-copy realm you have two basic choices: a vanity press or print-on-demand (POD). A vanity press will publish your book in quantity and ship it to you once you have signed the contract and paid the fees for printing and shipping. Print-on-demand is just what it sounds like: your work isn't printed until someone orders it. A vanity press prints your manuscript, may secure your ISBN number, ships it, and you are done financially with them. A POD service will generally charge you an upload fee, and may also charge you a percentage of royalties for each order. If you choose the ebook route, there are a number of ways you can get your manuscript formatted; basically an ebook is a .pdf file that is encrypted against digital duplication.

For any of the self-publishing options, I highly recommend at the very least a professional copywriter, and wholeheartedly suggest you hire an independent editor to help make your work the best can be. A freelance editor should be able to provide you with references and examples of work s/he has done.

The most recent iteration of innovation in publishing has been epublishing. For a decade or so, epublishers such as Ellora's Cave, Samhain, Loose-Id,offered online downloadable .pdf files of authors that were often novella length. The cost was significantly less than hardback/paperback print versions. These online publishers had varying levels of editorial support available, depending on their business model. Then came the Nook and Kindle. Originally designed as an alternate delivery method for publishers to reach their audience, when Amazon opened the door to CreateSpace and self-publishing on Amazon, the literary industry was irrevocably changed. Now anyone can self-publish on the single largest bookstore in the world. The royalties are much greater from a percentage standpoint but the price per unit is significantly smaller. So a 70-80% royalty structure might sound really good, but if your ebook is only selling for $2.50, that works out to significantly lower profit than 20% of a $8-9 trade paperback. At that point it is all sales. If you can get 2 million people to purchase your ebook, obviously you are looking at a significant profit. But if you only have 300 people purchase your ebook on Amazon, you might be lucky to clear $500.

There are major tradeoffs between traditional publishing and self-publishing. The most notable are financial and operational support, with quality control also being a major differentiator. When a large publisher makes the commitment to publish your book, you are generally paid a royalty advance, to give you the time to finish your book or create another. In addition, you receive the services of professionally recognized editors that generally have years of experience making a manuscript the best it can be. You also have the huge advantage of a professional marketing department and multiple distribution channels. In return for these not insignificant advantages, you give the publisher a hefty portion of the profits, and they control the distribution of the royalties with exclusive distribution and dissemination rights. There are also small presses, which offer much less in the way of marketing support but which you may have better chance of being published. Most of them do not pay advances, but they do offer editing and reviewers. There are many discussions on Absolute Write about the advantages, pitfalls, and warning signs about small presses.

Let's talk covers for a moment. One major misconception many beginning authors have about traditional presses is that they will have significant input and decision-making on their covers. You don't. Covers sell books, and all presses have dedicated artists or departments they work with that not only know the setup needed to create a book cover, but also to make sure publisher's brand is consistent. Publishers are in the business of selling books, and like everything else, there are trends in what sells. It used to be that an artist could create a cover and it would be photographed and then typeset. Nowadays, covers tend to be a combination of photos/digital art, depending on the genre or subject of the book. Obviously if you are self-publishing you have full decision making over the art for your cover, but make sure you use art that won't be detrimental to your book; when in doubt, go with a plain or abstract cover.

One question often arises for those pursuing traditional publishing: do I need an agent? The first thing to understand about agents is that they are the equivalent of an executive headhunter. They choose their clients based on the content of their manuscripts so they tend to be selective. Most have a range of genres they specialize in; they may be niche or broad, depending on factors such as agency size, the backgroound/s of their employees, and industry contacts. They generally take a 15%+ cut of publication royalties for each project. That may seem like a lot, but here is what you get from agent representation: direct access to publishers (submitted on you behalf) and contract negotiation expertise. Since your agent makes their living off of your deal, you are guaranteed they will get you the best contract terms possible. Publication contracts are a breed apart, so if you don't use an agent, at the very least do yourself a favor and use an attorney to review your contracts *that has a specialty in publication contract law.* You should consider submitting to an agent for representation if you A) have an accepted manuscript and want their negotiation services B) you aren't sure where to submit your manuscript directly C) you have previously submitted your manuscript, had it rejected from a significant number of publishing houses and you have made major changes. In the case of A, if you have been offered a multi-book deal, a one-time attorney fee may make more sense.

For those pursuing the traditional publishing route and an agent, it is absolutely vital that you do research to find reputable agents and for anyone that is using an independent editor, the same holds true. There are several online resources such as Preditors and Editors, Absolute Write, Query Tracker, Publisher's Marketplace (subscription), Association of Authors' Representatives, and good old fashioned professional word of mouth from friends/peers. Get references *and check them out*. LinkedIn has several writing Groups you can join at no charge to solicit feedback from other members. One trick to finding an agent is to read the dedications and forewards from your favorite authors; often they will name their agents in their thanks. You can also run a Google search on other authors to find out who their agents are; truthfully, it is pretty rare for a professional author not to have an agent. An agent can represent you on different projects to different publishers if you decide to branch out in your work. It is also very possible that attending writer's conferences that have agents and industry editors at them will result in finding the right contacts. Just make sure that, as with any other professional relationship, you get a written contract explicitly spelling out expectations and fees.

Probably the most important thing to understand about being an author is knowing that this is not a profession that is likely to make you *rich*. Even the NY Times Bestsellers don't all make millions. Being an author is a career option, but there are many authors that have "day jobs" or other external careers. Remember, if you are writing with any expectation of selling that you are creating a *product*, and that means you are to a great degree subject to the marketplace, in this case your readers. There was a question over on LinkedIn a couple of weeks ago about whether or not an author should be required to change his "voice". His small press publisher closed shop, and no one else was interested in picking up his very narrowly-focused voice, which was that of someone from a very specific part of the UK, in dialogue, setting, characterization, etc. Lots of people were saying that no, an author should not pander to the marketplace if it was "inauthentic", but my response was that if he depends on writing is his livelihood, then he needs to create product that people will *buy*. Otherwise, writing is an investment of time, emotion, and effort into nothing more than a literary exercise.

Using Dissent To Enhance Your Social Influence Online Fri, 22 Nov 2013 15:52:22 -0800 Conquent
This is one way you can build your professional online brand. Dissenting with someone that takes a stand on something you disagree with, and supporting your side of the argument professionally shows a Subject Matter Expertise that gets noticed, and is at the heart of having “social influence”, which can also be translated as “your reputation”.

Dissenting with such an obviously provocative statement or theory does carry risks. Upsetting the status quo or having the appearance of trying to persuade people to change their thinking can be detrimental to your online reputation if you are not confident in your assertions and able to back up your own statements with data and anecdotal evidence.

For those professionals with a lot of experience in the field but that are still trying to get a handle on social media, start small. You don’t have to take a diametric opposition to an online piece like I did. You can disagree with points, or even question some of the assumptions the writer is making. The point is just to show an intelligent response to the original piece that offers a different viewpoint. Your goal is to get noticed and attract like-minded individuals (such as hiring managers and industry leaders) to want to know more about you.

This week my favorite radio station was talking about how poorly Lady Gaga’s current album is doing in relation to her last one, and one of the DJ’s attributes her success directly to a fallout she had with Perez Hilton in the last year or two. He called for a boycott of her latest album, and her sales are much weaker. This is an extreme example of how social influence can affect a career, and a good model to learn from.
When Should Salary Trigger A Decision To Leave? Fri, 3 Jan 2014 09:36:41 -0800 Conquent
If you have been at your job for more than 3-5 years and your salary increases tend to be a standard 3-7% “cost of living” adjustments, I recommend doing some research on sites like <a href=””> </a>, <a href=””> </a> or even a general overview on <a href=””> Glassdoor </a>. Generally if you fall within the 65th+ percentile, you are being compensated fairly. Keep in mind that this is *just* base salary; if your company has killer benefits (like employer paid health premiums, or onsite perks such as free food), you need to factor these into your calculations. If you have equity in the company (for example stock) and the company has been growing, this could also make an impact in your decision.

While money is never the only reason to leave a job, it can be an indicator of a company’s culture, growth, and overall value of employees. I have one friend that has been with her company a very long time and she shared her salary with me and I was floored at how low her pay is. I have been actively helping her look for a new job and given her detailed information about what she *should* be making, which is more than double what she currently brings home.

Looking for a new job is scary and stressful, especially if you have been with a company for a very long time. Money should never be the only reason to look for a new job, but it isn’t unheard of for someone to leave a company for a year or two and come back and start again with a significantly higher salary. That is what a friend of mine is contemplating. His manager basically told him that he wasn’t ever going to be able to get a raise to make what he is worth if he didn’t leave. He’s been gone just a little over two years, and is checking his old company to see if there are any openings, just in case. ]]>
Industry Profile - Recruiters Mon, 10 Feb 2014 11:26:30 -0800 Conquent
Recruiting is a great stepping stone into other areas of HR because it involves a general knowledge of almost every facet of Human Resources. Compensation, account management from working with hiring managers on a regular basis, a working knowledge of benefits, immigration, contract/vendor management, working with various HRIS (Human Resource Information Systems), learning about employee relations issues such as internal equity (pay), headcount forecasting, and even Reductions in Force. Many smaller companies don't have the budget for a separate recruiting function so generalists also recruit as part of their workload.

Another professional contact reached out to me to ask about getting *into* recruiting, how one does that, what sort of a background does one need? I've mentioned the entry level route but she was interested in making a lateral move. If someone has been a hiring manager for at least a few years in their own industry, it is possible to move into a recruiting role within the industry, but it needs to be combined with other skills and training. First, as a recruiter, you must understand how the process of data capture and workflow is necessary to comply with state and federal regulations such as Affirmative Action and the EEOC. The compliance piece of Recruiting and HR is the steepest and most important learning curve for a new recruiter. One must be comfortable around databases. A good portion of Recruiting is about managing workflow in some way. I've used everything from email folders, to an Excel spreadsheet, to enterprise and web hosted applications. Each requisition (job) is a separate project that must be managed, and most recruiters have anywhere from 15-45 requisitions at any given time. Recruiters spend a *lot* of time on the phone (30%-40% of their time) conducting phone screens and reference checks. If someone isn't comfortable talking to strangers all the time, recruiting probably isn't a good profession (it's one of the reasons that a lot of sales professionals can be highly successful at recruiting.)

One of the best ways to start a recruiting career is with an agency, either a temporary firm (such as Robert Half, Volt, Adecco, etc.) or a direct placement or executive placement agency. Most corporate recruiting positions prefer or require some agency experience, because it is one of the best training grounds to learn the business of "recruiting" and becoming proficient at it quickly and able to identify good talent and write up a submittal.

As a recruiter becomes more experienced, s/he will also partake in different aspects of the business such as branding/marketing for the employer. A large portion of what I do is work on branding my employer in the local community, marketing our new products (as part of the recruiting process), and evangelizing our company 24x7. I am often one of the first in the company to know about new products, services or initiatives because of the need for staffing them.

My days are rarely boring, never the same, and intensely gratifying. I help people find jobs, help my hiring managers attract top talent, and I can walk down the halls and say "hi" to all the people I've brought on board. One thing it is vital to understand: recruiting is one of those careers where you are always "on", like a physician or a lawyer. You will constantly be asked your opinion on employment topics, for resume advice, and given names/referrals/resumes, and pointed to as the person to help job seekers find a job. This is not a career for introverts, but it is highly rewarding and can be very lucrative for the right personality. ]]>
Making Friends Out of Strangers (Great for Networking Events!) Wed, 26 Mar 2014 13:54:58 -0800 Conquent
Social Skills Lesson Number 2: How to make friends of strangers.

1. Ask stranger a question about them self.
2. Be interested as they answer.
3. Ask more questions.
4. Genuinely praise parts you like.


It's STUNNINGLY simple, and almost never fails. Yes, there are other techniques, but I find this one to be most fool proof. ]]>
Prospective Interns Mon, 7 Apr 2014 09:32:07 -0800 Conquent
1) Internships are generally filled by April. If you start your search then, you will most likely be disappointed. My suggestion? Try to find a summer job through a temporary firm. At least you will get some office experience.

2) Put your school information at the TOP of your resume. If I have to scroll to the bottom of your resume to find out where you are going to school, your GPA, and graduation date I may get bored long before then and move on. I have literally HUNDREDS of applicants for the half dozen or so positions I have open.

3) Speaking of resumes: you are not exempt from using key words on your resume. I had a Computer Science PhD candidate apply for an internship. I'm sure he was probably qualified, but *nowhere* on his resume did he reference the actual technical skills required for the job. For me to be able to evaluate you, if there are functional skills listed on the job description, *you need to include them* or I cannot legally consider you a qualified applicant. Yes, I said legally. (Read my post on keywords if you aren't sure what I'm talking about.)

4) Please, don't apply for positions you are completely unqualified for. It makes you look desperate and/or unable to read basic job descriptions. If you are an art history major, unless you have a minor in Computer Science, you should *not* be applying for a software engineering internship.

5) I'm sorry, but we most likely cannot hire an out of country student. It has to do with work authorization. If you are going to school in Germany but have a US passport, say so on your resume; but don't expect us to pay for your flights to/from the US. Our budget is not limitless.

6) If you graduated already or will be graduating right before the internship starts, trying to squeeze a full-time job out of an internship may or may not be possible. It depends on the company, their budget, and need. It might emerge next year, but not this year. If you are looking for your first full time job out of college, be honest and say that is what you are looking for.

7) Unpaid internships are on the decline, mainly because of Federal Regulations in the last few years. Unfortunately, this means the opportunities to gain valuable work experience are severely limited for students. I would recommend you try volunteering instead.

Finally, if you have been out of school for over 6 months, you generally *do not qualify for an internship", especially when the job description requirements say "student" or "currently enrolled" in it.
Why You Shouldn't Ask About Our Internships Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:15:42 -0800 Conquent
"An internship is a method of on-the-job training for white-collar and professional careers.[1][2] Internships for professional careers are similar in some ways to apprenticeships for trade and vocational jobs, but the lack of standardization and oversight leaves the term open to broad interpretation." (Wikipedia)

So here's the thing about internships: they are usually geared as vocational training for people pursuing a specific career choice. Software Engineer, Marketing, PR, Finance/Accounting, Fashion Merchandising, etc. Internships are a very important way for collegiates to get valuable industry experience. The Federal government has redefined "unpaid" internships in such a way that most employers can no longer risk offering them, which means that the overall number of available internships has gone down dramatically.

It's actually a waste of time to ask about internships if you don't even know what you want to do, what you are good at, what you think you might want to do; I have several other people that want to speak to me, and I cannot help you if you don't know what you want. I would recommend that students with no direction in school yet consider getting a summer temp job if they need money.

There are other things you can do with your time. Get a summer job (there is nothing wrong with working at the mall, at a movie theater or waiting tables); volunteer in some fashion, consider a summer quarter abroad studying, be a youth camp counselor, or even take a couple of classes for fun. The most important thing for me, as a recruiter, is to see that you are constantly challenging yourself and growing.

Smart Due Diligence Wed, 4 Jun 2014 11:53:41 -0800 Conquent
The last time I interviewed, I also did my due diligence on The company has a very large sales team, and almost all of the reviews were from sales and highly inflammatory. There had also recently been news that another major industry competitor was looking at entering the same niche. So when I had my follow up conversation with the Director of HR, I asked for clarification on those items. Most of our talk was around how the sales team morale was being addressed, what the competitor was lacking that made them a non-entity to this company. In short, my questions were answered and I proceeded with the process.

Doing your due diligence, be it on, through financial analyses, reading press releases, or talking to industry contacts with insider knowledge is critical not only for understanding the culture and the organization, but also to show your interest in a company. I cannot begin to tell you how many times an otherwise "good" candidate in terms of experience was back-burnered when they are asked the question "So tell me what you know about our company and products" and they have no answer or something they read on the website the night before.

Remember that when you are reading company reviews on a site like Glassdoor that the majority of those employee are either disgruntled ex-employees or dissatisfied current employees. Take things with a grain of salt. If you really do have concerns about a company's culture or brand, go straight to the horse's mouth (as it were) and show that you are interested, did your homework, and value your work experience enough that you are only interested in a company that "feels" right to you. ]]>
New Grad Resume Killers: Don't Do It Wed, 18 Jun 2014 22:17:41 -0800 Conquent
-Put everything you've ever done in school on your resume including individual classes, every activity you have ever participated in, Professor recommendations. At the *top* of your resume, I want to know where you went to school, when you graduated, and what your major is. If you had an overall 3.5+ GPA and want to include it, fine. Other than that, I want to see PROFESSIONAL development. That includes internships, certifications, professional associations you have joined, and relevant volunteer experience. Give me details about your experience: what was the project you worked on? What were the results of your efforts (accomplishments)? Did you learn any industry/job specific tools (ie software pacakges)?

For the sake of little green frogs, PLEASE USE BULLET POINTS, not block paragraphs.

-I am looking for QUANTIFIABLE skills as they relate to how you would do a job. Quantifiable means there is some sort of statistical value to what you are telling me. How long, how much, how many, how often. If you aren't sure how to quantify it, look at either the job description or the project overview and see if what you did mirrors what was scoped out in the job description.

-Unless you have a few years of *work experience* i.e. you went back to school or had 4 internships, your resume should be one page.

-Don't overwhelm me with extra-cirricular activities. If you were in a club your freshman year and went to meetings once a month, I don't care. I'm most interested in the last 1-2 years in activities that show either a focus on your professional industry of choice, leadership activities (and tell me what that entails), or discipline/competitiveness (sports, performance, associations).

-Avoid references to politics and religious activities. *If you went on a mission or other sabbatical, position it in terms of professional development such as an active membership drive for a global non-profit organization. Cold calling, lead generation, SME on the vision, goals, and social objectives of the organization. You can use statistics like "increased local chapter membership by 45% in 18 months."

-If you are going to use a summary statement, keep it *short*. You most likely don't have enough experience to justify a paragraph. AVOID OBJECTIVES. They are limiting. I recently saw a resume of someone that had been out of school for less than 6 months, had NO work experience, and the objective? "A director level position inside of three years." (Good luck with that.) I represent a global company with 1000 employees. Not only do you not meet the minimum requirements, you are arrogant and have no clue how publicly traded companies *function*. Go try the startup world or better yet, start your own company. I'm looking for someone that is interested in the *opportunity*, content of the position, and is willing to learn as much as s/he can.

-Don't list useless skills. "Excellent penmanship"? Really? Unless I'm hiring a calligrapher for wedding invitations, this is giving me the impression that you cannot think of anything worthwhile and relevant to put on your resume.

I don't need or want your references unless I offer you a job. I don't care that you are looking for a "progressive company that utilizes my organizational skills and offers the opportunity to learn and grow". (Of COURSE that is what you want.) Skip the trite, overused, cliche phrases that tell me nothing I don't already know. Please. Just...don't.

Interviews: What Not To Wear Fri, 11 Jul 2014 01:55:01 -0800 Conquent
I work in the tech sector in the very laid back Northwest. If a software engineering candidate comes wearing a suit and tie, that is a huge red flag from a cultural perspective. The message is “too formal”, “too rigid”, doesn’t “get it”. To be honest, showing up in nice jeans and a button down shirt would be a better decision in our industry and market.

I generally recommend “business casual” for most candidates in most industries. Exceptions to the “no suit” rule should be dictated by geography and industry. Financial services, law, government, religious organizations, and consulting industries should almost always be full suit. Non-profit norms depend on the sector. Color rules should still be relevant. The more conservative the industry, the more likely it is that you will wear a suit. If you are interviewing for a corporate leadership position (executive), a suit is always acceptable.

Also, the further west you move, the more casual things will probably become.

I think it’s easier for men to figure out the concept than most women. When it comes to long hair and facial hair, make sure it is neatly groomed and clean. Long hair should be pulled back.

Here are some dos/don’ts


-Slacks/trousers (Dockers, Chinos, suit pants)

-Collared shirt (“button down”); a polo shirt might be appropriate in certain climates

-Vest, sports coat, or cardigan if the weather is cold

-Tie or slip on shoes (loafers), dress boots

-Minimal jewelry (ring, watch, necklace, stud earring/s)

Business casual may include a tie or not depending on the job and industry. If you are going to be in a client/customer facing role, go with a tie. Avoid “quirky”; that fish tie you like should probably stay at home and the striped one would probably be better.


-Tennis shoes/sneakers or flip flops

-Skinny jeans. Ever.

-Logo/art t-shirts


-Tank shirts

Stick to relatively subdued colors for the most part unless you are in a creative industry (for example you are in PR). Think blues, grays, black, brown, tan. Go for the less vibrant hues (navy or light blue instead of a bright royal). If you choose to wear a pattern, go for something small and more subdued.

Women have a much wider variety of fashion choices than men. It’s easier to give guidelines of what not to wear in this instance. I was at campus recruiting events earlier this year and the number of women that were falling out of their clothing was appalling.

- If you have to cross your legs when you sit down so people cannot see up your skirt, don’t wear it. It is too short.

-Heels that are too high. This isn’t a date, it’s an interview. 3 ½ inches should be your maximum. If you are in a warm climate, open toe shoes are fine but *never* flip flops. Ever. Make sure your feet and toenails are groomed. No cracked heels and scaly skin, please.

-Tennis/athletic shoes, I don’t care how cute they are.

-Cover up: a wide-strap tank is fine, a camisole showing your bra straps is not. Your cleavage should not be pronounced. If the fabric is sheer, put something under it.

-Crop pants and shorts. Both are too casual for interviews. Stick to trousers.

-Extremely clingy fabrics. A close-fitting sheath is one thing, the dress you wear for date night leaving nothing to the imagination -meant to entice your S.O. to want to rip it off - is totally inappropriate for interviews.

-Fabrics that are too shiny and sparkly can be distracting to interviewers. Leave the sequins, PVC and pleather at home.

-When it comes to jewelry, less is more. Fewer pieces, less bling, smaller scale/size. Save the 6” dangle earrings for happy hour.

-If you want to have a “statement” piece or accessory, stick to a necklace, scarf, purse or shoes (color or pattern).

-When it comes to color and pattern, women have a bit more leeway. However, the same rules for vibrancy/hue stand. Don’t distract your interviewers with bold prints and colors. This is a time for your personality to shine.

-Makeup: nude palette is optimal, but if nothing else please remember that you are in an office building, not a club. Use a lighter hand with your eyes, and light-medium colors on your lips.

If you are interviewing in an industry where suits are standard, unless it is over 90 degrees outside wear pantyhose and closed toe shoes.

For both genders: please make sure you are wearing appropriate foundation garments. No visible panty lines or bra straps for women, men please wear an undershirt if your chest hair is visible through your shirt. I highly recommend NOT wearing any perfume/cologne. You don't know if an interviewer is allergic, or your fragrance reminds them of the person their ex had an affair with. If you feel you must, keep it subtle. If your interviewer can smell it before they shake your hand, it is too strong.

I’m also going to address body art. As tattoos have become more mainstream in the last decade, people never seem to know what to do with their body art. If you have full sleeves on your arms, you might want to consider long sleeved shirts if you aren’t in a casual or artistic industry. Usually smaller art on your foot, ankle, wrist, neck, etc. is fine unless it is highly religious, controversial (i.e. a swastika) or graphic. If you have piercings on your face, go with the smallest gauge you have. Generally eyebrow barbells and nose studs cause much less commentary than lip and tongue piercings. Remember, your goal is to get an offer. Once you have the offer in hand, it is appropriate to ask if there is a dress code governing body art that is visible. The answer may be very important to your cultural fit in the organization.

And it should go without saying: hygiene means you have bathed, washed your hair, used deodorant and brushed your teeth.

A general rule of thumb: if you know you will be wearing a suit to work every day, wear a suit. If you are in an industry where jeans are the norm, dress up slightly. If in doubt, always go a bit more conservative than edgy. Being comfortable - both physically and confidently, should be a guiding factor in attire decisions. For every question about “what not to wear” it is ALWAYS a good idea to ask the recruiter if you aren’t sure. Remember, they want you to succeed.

The truth of the matter is that most people that dress flamboyantly or have an extreme personality will self-select out of roles, companies, and industries where they aren't going to be happy.

The Early Bird And The Recruiting Cycle Fri, 18 Jul 2014 00:21:51 -0800 Conquent
I'm not writing specifically about the Microsoft impact. What I'm hoping to help people understand is simply that the earlier you become proactive about impending cuts and changes, the more likely you will have a place to land. The folks that send me their resumes within a day or two of needing a new job are the ones that have a better chance of getting into process with other employers.

The truth of the matter is that beyond a certain point, once a candidate pipe is relatively full (usually within the first 2-3 weeks of a position opening) the chances of latecomers being considered for the position become slimmer.

Let's say I open a marketing manager position on July 20th. I post the job on LinkedIn, Twitter, maybe a couple of job boards. Then I look at the employee referrals and prior candidates that were a good fit but not the top candidate for a similar role. I search in my Applicant Tracking System for candidates that have applied to other roles in the last six months. I reach out to professionals on LinkedIn via LI Recruiter. This is all in week 1.

During week 2, I am getting responses, sharing resumes or LinkedIn profiles with the Hiring Manager, and starting to set up phone screens for me and the hiring team.

By weeks 3 through 5, we are continuing with phone screens to identify the top 2-3 candidates to bring onsite and scheduling interviews. Once we have those viable candidates, we put a relative "hold" on new candidate activity unless they are a *perfect fit* for the position.

Weeks 6-8 should generally include an offer.

Granted this is a relatively perfect scenario, but it is more the norm than not, especially in a healthy economy with a lot of candidates. If there are no viable candidates in the first wave of activity, we generally do a "lather, rinse, repeat".

It is unfortunate that far too many people are in shock (and denial) after a job elimination. Many candidates will try to take some time, assess the damage, and develop a plan. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this approach, except for the fact that the 22 other people with your same basic qualifications from your former company have not waited, and they are all vying for the same 4 positions that are currently open. They are networking, their LinkedIn profiles are up to date, they have a working copy of their resume, and they are actively applying for those openings.

2008 wasn't that long ago, and many people and job markets are still recovering. You don't know if or when another position will open up for your skill set. Do you have the recommended 6 months in savings to cover that contingency?
Bad Writing Tarnishes Your Brand Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:56:37 -0800 Conquent
I am appalled at how *badly* people are writing on the internet across the board. Blogs, articles (on "news sites" like the Huffington Post for example), LinkedIn, you name it. A recent example: in a article about overhauling the US education system, the author used the word "trough" instead of "through". Why does it matter? It seriously detracts from the credibility of the author if there are spelling errors or words used incorrectly in an article.

When I say "detracts from the credibility of the author" I also mean "diminishes your professional brand". I am talking about professional discussions and writings on the internet, not your personal blog sharing pictures of Junior, Fluffy or Fido with Grandma and Uncle Herman. If you choose to use the internet as your branding platform for your professional self, you absolutely must be a perfectionist in your approach.

-Use the <a href=””>Chicago Manual of Style </a>; it is the de facto resource on publishing in the United States.
-Turn OFF the auto correct, it will cause more heartache than it fixes.
-Use Spell Check in Word,,, and Google prolifically.
-Have at least two other people read your work for flow and errors, preferably people that know good/bad writing.
-EDIT. Too many people don't want to edit their work. The fewer words you can say it in, the more you will keep your readers' attention.

If you aren't willing to take the steps to be a *good* writer, then please do the world a favor and don't write for the public at all.
The Realities Of A Radical Career Change Tue, 12 Aug 2014 21:33:46 -0800 Conquent
It is a problem and misconception that many senior professionals have; that experience in either a role or industry is highly transferable, and without a significant loss of income. When someone is looking at making a radical career change, I recommend they considering investing in a Career Counselor or Coach. I asked my friend Janet Civitelli, a Career Counselor at Vocation Village to weigh in on how she has helped clients looking to make this sort of transition wth a Q & A.

<B>When you have a client that comes to you wanting to make a radical career change, how do you respond?</B>

I start by performing an evaluation of a client's current situation. If the client decides to hire me as a career coach for structure and support, we work together to assess the client's strengths and challenges, make decisions, create actionable steps, and overcome obstacles.

<B>How long does it generally take to completely switch careers or industries (with/without additional educational actions)?</B>

It can take just a few months if someone invites you to follow a path even if you don't have any track record in that area, but this is not typical. It can take years to transition into some specialized fields that require advanced degrees, credentialing, or licensing.

<B>What kind of skills inventories do you use to help clients identify their needs?</B>

I am constantly evaluating assessment tools. Some of my current favorites are listed here: <a href="" target="_blank">List of Assessments</a>

<B>Do you address emotional issues that may be impacting a client’s desire for a change? </B>

Absolutely yes. That's one of the reasons my background as a psychologist is helpful.

<B>Is there a specific methodology you use for a career transition plan?</B>

Each client is unique but in general, the steps in making a career transition are:

1. Identify the client's strengths, interests, values, and personality.
2. Evaluate options and how to build on the client's previous track record to transition into new possibilities.
3. Experiment with options to reality test the fit. Do this in the least expensive ways possible in terms of time and money.
4. Start taking steps toward the new path because making this investment is worth it in the long run given most people will be working for many more decades.
5. Learn as you go, re-evaluate, and course correct because many people find that as they change and the world changes, their goals evolve, too.

<B>What advice do you give to professionals considering radical career moves?</B>

All of life involves tradeoffs. There is no such thing as a cost-free radical career move so I recommend proceeding in a strategic, intentional way to maximize the chances that the long-term outcomes are good.


As a seasoned recruiter, I can tell you that hiring managers are generally looking for candidates that have up to date skills and/or current industry experience (you can train on one - skills OR industry, but generally not both quickly). Every industry changes regularly: tools, business model, audience/customer base, and product/service evolution. Employees need to be able to jump in and be productive in a relatively short time (usually the first 60-90 days). The exception to this rule is usually new graduates, because they come directly out of school in a learning mode, and have no outdated skills or industry insights to unlearn.

If you are thinking of a major career change as an employee of someone else, keep in mind that your best bet is to make incremental, lateral moves. Your same job in a new industry, or a different but not radically different job in your current industry. Deciding to chuck your entire career of the last 15 years because you want to try "something different" is often an unrealistic fantasy, especially if you don't have significant money in the bank to see you through a multi-year transition. You need a realistic transition plan or you will find yourself frustrated, unhappy, and unemployed. ]]>
Recruiting/HR Industry Glossary Of Terms Thu, 21 Aug 2014 01:13:43 -0800 Conquent
<b>Corporate/"Internal" Recruiter</b>: a recruiter that works for a specific company hiring candidates directly for that company. May be either a FT or contract employee, usually has an email address with the company name. *See RPO

<b>Agency Recruiter</b>: a recruiter that works for a staffing agency; may be for full time jobs at another company, long term consulting, or temporary positions. For consulting/temporary position, the agency is in fact the employer. W2 or 1099.

<b>Recruitment Placement Outsourcing</b>: a model where a company hires an external vendor/agency to manage all or part of its recruiting function. This may include all inbound (applications, referrals) and outbound processes. The offer negotiation may be handled by hiring managers or the RPO.

<b>University or Campus Recruiter/recruiting</b>: employers looking at college students/campuses for interns and entry-level employees.

<b>College Recruiter</b>: Employee at a college or university that is seeking new students to enroll in their institution.

<b>Campus Candidate</b>: someone that is either still enrolled in a degree program, or is less than a year after graduation (usually applies to Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD programs).

<b>Industry Candidate</b>: a job seeker (with or without a degree) with at least a year or employment history.

<b>Hard skill</b>: quantifiable, specific experience or information that is learned and demonstrated over a period of time.

<b>CV (Cirriculum Vitae)</b>: an unabridged overview of a professional’s entire career including personal information, employment, full educational credentials, publications, affiliations and honors. Used primarily in Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America as well as specific industries in the North America (ie: research, education, law).

<b>Application</b>: a legal document employers ask applicants to complete prior to interviewing.

<b>Reverse-chronologic format</b>: A resume format that is a list of experience and education starting with the most recent employer (company, title, location, dates of employment) and a detailed summary of experience associated with the role.

<b>Functional format</b>: skills and experiences are grouped together (generally by similar classification), professional history is listed all in the same section (company, title, location, dates of employment)

<b>Keyword search</b>: a query process (also known as Boolean Logic/Search) incorporating an algorithm that matches specific phrases between a source and a destination, then returns a list of the matched results.

<b>Minimum Requirement</b>: A skill, type of experience, or educational qualification that is defined by an employer as the absolute lowest acceptable qualification for consideration of a specific job.

<b>Preferred Qualification</b>: highly desirable skills, experience, or education that is relevant or useful in a specific job or industry.

<b>Applicant Tracking System</b>: A relational database or system used by Recruiters and Human Resources professionals to track candidates and to publish job openings.

<b>Soft skill</b>: personality traits, behavioral patterns, communication styles etc. that characterize how one person interacts with other people.

<b>Education</b>: formal, matriculated education resulting in a diploma (HS) or a degree (AA/AS, BA/BS, MA/MS, PhD).

<b>Training and certifications</b>: professional development; may be provided on the job, via classes/seminars, or by taking a licensing exam. NOT considered part of "education". ]]>
When And Why Degrees Matter Fri, 12 Sep 2014 17:51:44 -0800 Conquent
First and foremost, I think it’s important to understand that in this instance, size matters. The larger the company, the more likely it is going to be that they are requiring degrees. The rationale for this has a significant root in compliance issues. If a company hires H1-B immigration workers, one of the minimum requirements for a candidate to qualify for an H1-B is a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant discipline (i.e. an English degree doesn't work for a tech job). When a company starts employing H1-B employees, they set their minimum requirements for the job titles/categories they are sponsoring, and often those minimum requirements include a Bachelor’s. Once those minimum requirements are set, they must be followed in all recruitment activities for those specific job titles.

There is also the concept of degree equivalency where applicants can use a combination of education and experience to equate to a US Bachelor's degree. These usually have to be evaluated by a third party education evaluation service before the application can be submitted.
Here are the official requirements (compliments of USCIS):

•A bachelor’s degree or higher degree or its equivalent is normally the minimum requirement for the particular position;

•The degree requirement is common for this position in the industry, or the job is so complex or unique that it can only be performed by someone with at least a bachelor's degree in a field related to the position;

•The employer normally requires a degree or its equivalent for the position; or

•The nature of the specific duties is so specialized and complex that the knowledge required to perform the duties is usually associated with the attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree

How do you determine the “or equivalent experience?”

• It MUST be doing the same type of job as is called for in the job description and requirements, it is *not* a total years of work experience

• There is no concrete, written-in-stone equation of experience=education; however a conservative guideline is 2.5-3 years of experience equates to 1 year of education

Some industries such as law and healthcare have such specialized education requirements that culturally they carry over to all aspects of recruiting/HR. As companies get larger, they tend to put more stock in formal training and education as a way to choose the most highly qualified candidates. Think of companies like Google, Amazon, Nike, or GE. When you literally get thousands of applicants a *day*, there needs to be a way to set the bar *just* to manage the workflow. Add that to additional federal compliance requirements from 3 or 4 different fronts, and a degree for most jobs becomes a foregone conclusion.

Smaller companies, especially privately held entities, have much more leniency when it comes to hiring practices. They will generally be willing and able to hire “on potential”, meaning they feel that even if you don’t have the exact skills they need, they feel you can learn them. <a href="">“Aptitude”</a> is another way of looking at it. It would be a mistake to discount a smaller company in preference for “security”. I think the downturn and even recent layoffs at companies like Microsoft prove that large doesn’t necessarily equal “stable”. Smaller companies offer the opportunity to learn new skills, help guide the direction of the company, and possibly attain leadership positions more readily.

If you are seriously considering pursuing or finishing your degree, there are many options open to mature students. I have one friend that did not get a degree, yet attained an MBA based on his work experience and another friend that doesn’t have a high school diploma or GED, yet has a BA, MBA, and JD all complete. Finding a program that will work with your schedule, experience, and needs will take some research but is not impossible. For profit schools have come under a lot of federal scrutiny the last several years based on consumer complaints. Online for profit degrees are especially suspect. If you decide to pursue an online degree, make sure that you do your homework. Generally an online program affiliated with a brick and mortar school is a safe bet. One of the schools that is completely online and a not for profit is <a href="">WGU (Western Governor’s University) </a>and has gotten high marks from hiring managers and other recruiters (and is quite affordable). Always remember community colleges as well, especially if you have a large number of pre-requisites to fill. They are highly affordable and it is often much easier to transfer to a larger school if you have good grades at a community college.

Only you can determine if finishing a degree is worth the time and effort, but if you are finding that the lack of one is seriously impeding your career opportunities, it may be worth considering.

My Latest University Career Fair Observations Thu, 2 Oct 2014 17:35:51 -0800 Conquent
Things I was impressed with this year more than in years past:

-Students were much better prepared to discuss their own experiences in terms of education, classes, internships, projects, and what they were looking for.

-The majority of students that visited our table had relevant degrees that matched to what we are looking for.

-We have several past interns that they had taken the time to speak with.

-The professionalism was much higher than even my experiences last spring in terms of resumes, appearance, and conversation (for the record, this year I visited UC Berkeley, UVa, and Vanderbilt).

At any career fair, most employers have some sort of a ranking system or categorization based on skill set, interaction with the candidate, background, etc. Students that acted generally engaged and interested in our company and asked questions tended to be more favorably viewed.

A few things I found disappointing:

-The “drive by” student that just “dropped off a resume” and didn’t take time to stay and chat.

-It is cheesy to just stop by for the swag. Really, really, really tacky.

-Obviously ill prepared questions: “so, what do you guys do?” We submit a profile and job descriptions to every career fair we attend. It is not CHEAP for companies to attend a job fair. We pay money for the privilege of talking to students. Do us the courtesy of at least reading the 3 sentence blurb we have sent that is in your program before you come talk to us. Or, here’s a novel concept: pull up our URL on your smartphone.

-Desperation is not good. I’m going to preface this by saying that I understand why international students attend US schools, but trust me when I say that we can tell when all you are looking for is someone to sponsor you versus finding a meaningful internship or job. It is a turn off. The message “I’m willing to talk to or work for anyone that will sponsor me” is a major NEGATIVE for employers.

So, next career fair, how will YOU be perceived by a potential employer?
Want a job? Check your email. Mon, 1 Dec 2014 15:34:03 -0800 Conquent
"Sorry was kind of busy, but available tomorrow or Wed same time . Let me know?"

This candidate obviously is not interested in the opportunity. His laissez-faire attitude about interviewing is frustrating. I sent back to him that unfortunately, I was *not* available either of those days.

I also had another candidate that applied to a position that I reached out to in email early last week. I still have not heard back from him. This morning I texted him to make sure he got my reply. He looks good enough "on paper" to be worth an initial screen, but not if he doesn't actually return my outreach. He has until tomorrow. If I don't get an answer I am going to decline him (with a politely worded note stating that we tried to make contact several times.) Although it is a "buyer's market" (candidates are the buyers), the company I represent puts a very heavy emphasis on passion hand in hand with functional skills. If a candidate acts all "Meh", they aren't even going to get a chance to talk to us. Recruiters generally set up appointments via email, so if a candidate doesn't check their mail regularly then they probably don't have the business skills to make it in an organization that runs professionally. I'm not sure how job seekers think I'm going to contact them other than via the information on their resume. (Oh, and here's something to think about: I don't automatically assume your phone number IS a cell unless you tell me, so texting is only a secondary form of outreach.) Make sure you also check your spam folder.

Please keep in mind that these are applicants that APPLIED TO OPEN JOBS. It is this sort of blase behavior that frustrates me when I hear from the general populace about the "resume black hole". It's a two way street, folks. ]]>
A Recruiting Career (And Why Your MLIS Might Be Good For It) Tue, 24 Feb 2015 10:48:03 -0800 Conquent
There are three general types of recruiters: corporate (working exclusively for one company, may be a full time or contract employee; bound by strict conflict of interest parameters for candidates outside their employer’s scope), agency (working for an employment/”temp” agency with multiple customers that have a variety of job openings to fill), and an executive recruiter who generally handles positions at the Director, VP and C-level exclusively. Within all the categories of recruiters, there is actually a singular job function called “Sourcing” (or Researcher) who has the specific goal of developing candidate relationships, both immediate and long-term.

There are two sorts of sourcing activities: reactive and strategic. Reactive is when there is an existing job opening to be filled for a specific role. A recruiter that has existing relationships with hiring managers is often able to start sourcing before a requisition is officially “open”. In the corporate world, they may know of someone that has put in their notice, or be privy to annual/quarterly headcount planning, or have gotten a head’s up from the hiring manager that an opening is “in the works.” In the agency instance, usually an Account Manager works directly with the hiring manager, often they are contacted as soon as the need is identified. Once a requisition (job opening) is “officially” open (meaning all necessary approvals are obtained, job description is finalized, meeting with hiring manager to define the role is concluded and it is posted externally), the clock starts ticking. For job seekers, generally the first *two weeks* are the critical time to get into the candidate pipeline. (This is why job agents are absolutely key if you are actively seeking.) Reactive recruiting is almost exclusively what happens with agencies, and is probably 75%+ of what corporate full lifecycle recruiters deal with. It is hiring for a very specific set of skills for a singular job or profile (although there may be multiple openings for the same job.) When sourcing for candidates, recruiters are looking for professionals that fit within the parameters of the pre-established role/s. This is probably where most job seekers fall in the spectrum.

Strategic (sometimes called “opportunistic”) recruiting is more about anticipating future needs and having candidates on hand or accessible that may be interested for a role. This is a very large portion of what Executive recruiters do – they build long term relationships with very senior candidates, and then they look for potential positions that might be of interest. (I’d like to note that many candidates believe that there are “personal recruiters” that will work in this capacity with them; in North America, it is very rare.)

Sourcers (or Researchers), who may be employed by any of the types of recruiting organizations mentioned above, are dedicated to strategic recruiting and deep market research. They may be brought on board to help with a particularly difficult or niche role for a somewhat singular need. If you have an MLIS or have done a lot of market research, this may be a good career path. You generally search for candidates and may or may not engage with them; you hand them off before the interview process begins.

Some of the channels for finding candidates:

• Employee Referrals – Considered across the board to be the single best source of qualified candidates
• Internal Applicant Tracking System (Candidate database of people that have applied in the past: this is a great resource because it has historical data, and a recruiter knows that candidates have expressed an interest sometime in the past)
• LinkedIn-the de facto professional networking site worldwide. Caveat: LI has been changing up its pricing model and many people are becoming unhappy with the site. Still huge for now, but that may change in the next couple of years. It is a significant cost for businesses to have recruiter accounts
• – this is hot with recruiters because there is a free resume database they can query

Sourcers and truly knowledgeable/dedicated recruiters will use advanced search techniques:

• Google as a way to find talent based on a variety of factors such as articles (either written by, interviewed for, or commented on), blogs, conference papers, patents, portfolios, online sites like Github,, or industry directories
• Social Media profiles such as can be found on Twitter and Facebook using very specific search parameters
• Telephone sourcing- calling into target companies to build contact lists (ie after hours, and going down the corporate directory)

Recruiting is a pretty positive industry. In general, we help people find jobs. There are very few downsides to it. If you have an interest in an HR career, it is a good foot in the door. If you have a degree in Library Science, Sourcing is actually a really good career move and is very hot across the country.
What should you expect if you are considering recruiting?
• Spending a lot of time on the phone and on email. A LOT. I usually spend 2-4 hours on the phone most days interviewing/evaluting candidates.
• Working with databases of some sort. You need to be able to pick up on basic technologies and be organized in how your approach managing information.
• A fast learner with superior verbal skills. If you get into a specialty like medicine or technology you have to be able to learn about the specific industry overall as well as how your positions fit within the greater scheme.
• Recruiting, like being a doctor or attorney, means you are always “on”; everyone is either looking for a job or knows someone that is. You will get questions on resumes, career development, interviewing techniques, salary negotiations, etc. Keep business cards handy at all times and be gracious. If the thought of this bothers you, recruiting probably isn’t a good fit.
• Narrow career path: recruiting has only a very few career paths. That being said, it is one of the few careers where you can double your income very quickly if you are good in a very short time, and isn’t dependent on having a degree. The downside: if there is a market downturn, recruiting is one of the first roles to be eliminated.
• There is a major sales and marketing aspects to recruiting. Discussing salaries is about negotiation; engaging candidates (and hiring managers) and making an offer is about the art of persuasion. Writing job descriptions is all about marketing.
• You will have to become knowledgable about a lot of legal requirements and be expected to adhere to them.
• You will make a LOT of valuable contacts, from hiring managers to students. If you put the effort into keeping your network up and work to maintain a good reputation with your peers, you will rarely be without a job.
• There is a lot of project coordination/management and it can get very busy (sometimes overwhelming) and you have to track a lot of information simultaneously, have it well organized and at your fingertips.
• Metrics-driven. Your performance and success is based on how many hires you have and how quickly you fill positions; if you are in the agency world the majority of our income may very well depend on it. That being said, recruiting can be a *very* lucrative career.

Recruiting is *not*:
• A used car salesman-type job.
• Career coaching or an HR Manager role. You are not going to be developing careers for people. Once you help them land, you will move on. That isn’t to say you cannot move into one of these roles, but that is not your primary focus as a recruiter. (Although in many smaller organizations HR Managers do handle recruiting.)
• In the corporate world, recruiters are very consultative with managers and HR. In the agency world, they are very much transactional and surface-skimming in terms of involvement with the client.
• A free-for-all. Recruiters (regardless of their country) have strict legal guidelines they must follow, and a high degree of confidentiality is required.
• About sitting around on social media posting jobs and waiting for the right applicant to come through the door.
• Repetitious. It changes daily, sometimes even hourly.
• A career for someone needing a lot of direction and constant external feedback/validation regularly.

If you want to learn more about recruiting, there are a couple of industry web portals. is our main gathering hub is a great resource to learn more about Sourcing.

If you have questions, leave me a comment!

Labor Disputes - What//Why/How/Where Tue, 12 May 2015 12:03:26 -0800 Conquent
In 2008, she contacted me just as I was completing a contract at Microsoft with an opportunity that was amazingly good. I was being hired to move to New Orleans or a year and set up a staffing office geared at helping single parents get back on their feet. I had an offer letter, an email address, and I met several other new employees at a local hotel, with the office set to open in downtown Seattle less than a month later. I even did some work on my vacation in Las Vegas.

Imagine my surprise when on the day I, and the other new employees, were supposed to go to orientation when we discovered that the address we had been given didn't exist. All of this happened in the course of three weeks. I had turned down a contract at Microsoft to join this venture and it turned out to be bogus. Then the recession hit.

Being in HR, I filed a claim against her with the Bureau of Labor and Industries for back wages. I had to provide documentation (the offer letter, copies of emails regarding meetings for the first day, the hotel meet and greet, and even the work that I had done while on vacation were all admissible. In my case the wage dispute was several thousand dollars, not chump change. I honestly never expected to see the money, but the upshot of my action (and I advised the other “employees” to consider the same) was that she could not open a business or work in WA state under the same social security number until this situation was resolved.

Much to my delight, about two months ago, I started receiving checks for the outstanding balance (and interest) for the assessed monies. I’m tickled that I have the money coming in. She is either giving it voluntarily or if she is working her wages may be garnished. The funds are held in escrow; when a payment is made, the BL&I sends me a form that I need to fill out and either mail back or I can take in and pick the checks up. (It’s a 90 minute drive to their location, and they are only open M-F 8-4:30 so I’ve been having the checks mailed to me.)

To get started researching how to get your questions answered, you can try a Google search with your state + “labor and industry”, or you can also try navigating the Federal Department of Labor.
Just be aware that if you file any sort of claim or dispute, there is most likely a very exacting and involved process and you may not see results for years.
How You Can Help Me Help You Thu, 23 Jul 2015 12:36:14 -0800 Conquent
"Call out to my friends (and my friends' friends, should you be kind enough to share). . . I know two people looking for work. If you know of any places that are hiring, I would love to be able to pass on information."

One person is turning 18 next week. Has lots of volunteer experience, but is looking for a first paying job. It needs to be in Seattle, as he relies on public transportation.

The other person is older with significantly more skills and experience and personal transportation. In either case, I can't really say what is appropriate for them, but would be happy to tell them about any opportunity and let them decide."

For the record, there is *no* contact information for the referrer (I guess s/he just assumed that any leads would be passed along.) For the 18 year old, I recommended he apply at Starbuck's. Plenty of jobs, they are always looking. For the second person, I was a bit more blunt. "What does s/he *do*?"

Then I asked my friend to please send them two links: one of my earliest blogs on "How NOT to Network" and another from a friend, "Ask A Career Coach" (

I am a super valuable contact to have. I'm an established, senior recruiter in one of the hottest employment markets in the country. I am generally happy to help job seekers - especially those I know - with general advice/expertise.

But there are a few caveats:

-Know what you want. "A job" is not an acceptable answer for me or anyone else. Take some time to determine where you are going to focus your energy. Which leads to:

-Don't waste my time. By that I mean, don't be vague or say, "hi I need your help". Give me a specific request.
"Hi, I am looking for a mid-level position in the banking industry in xyz city and I was wondering if you had any resources or suggestions of where I can concentrate my efforts?"

-Follow directions. This one applies specifically to my LinkedIn profile. It clearly states, in no less than three places, that I don't accept random connection requests. If you just send me the generic, "Hi I would like to join your LinkedIn network" with no context (what are you looking for, how do we know one another?) then I'm going to archive it. There are rare exceptions, and usually those are because knowing the person is beneficial to *me*.

-Don't ask me for favors if I explicitly offer services for hire. What this means is, no, I'm not going to give you a resume/LinkedIn profile review out of the goodness of my heart if I don't know you. I charge money for that. I have a blog, articles all over the internet on the Seattle Times and UW Continuing education about how things work. The whole reason I started this blog is during the Recession people kept asking me the same questions about resumes, job seeking, networking, recruiting, etc. over and over. I decided to share my expertise so people could have a free online resource to get common questions answered. If you read my writings and have specific questions, *then* I'm happy to expand.

-Avoid trying to use me to sidestep the system. By that I mean, if you are looking at a specific job and you haven't applied for it, don't ask me to consider you for the role unless you have done so. Legally I can only respond to candidates that have expressed interest in a specific job. And please, be aware that I usually am looking for a very specific skill set and only recruit for a very few types of positions; I have those positions listed on my LinkedIn profile. If you are a brand manager in the health/beauty industry, chances are slim to NONE that I will be able to help you land a job at my tech company.

-I am not anyone's personal recruiter. Unless you are at the VP level or above, those don't *exist* (and if you are at that level, you need to be contacting Executive Search firms, not corporate recruiters). There is no money in it, even for agencies. They are paid by *companies*, not by individuals. On top of that, I have serious ethical and non-conflict concerns with my full time employer; they pay me to recruit candidates for them, not other employers. I literally cannot help you in that respect. Your best bet is to find an agency (temporary and full time placement) and register with them. That being said, if you are looking for a connection at a specific company and have already identified a job, I am probably willing to facilitate a LinkedIn introduction to someone if they are in my network. But *you* need to ask me for exactly what you want from me.

So, in what ways am I willing/happy to help? If you are looking for a job in Seattle, send me your resume and I'm happy to share it with the general recruiter population. It takes 3 seconds and I'm happy to do it. If you have a specific question about a job I have associated with my profile, I will answer that question (ie "I see this job is requiring XYZ skill set; here is my relevant experience, is it worth me applying for the position?" or "is that position still open?") If you are looking for an online resource and haven't been able to identify it ("where are the best places for me to post my resume" or "what are the best ways to network at JKL company?") drop me a line.

I know my caveats seem rather harsh, but I get random requests like this *every day from several different people around the world.* I truly do believe in paying it forward, but please be sensitive to my time. I have a demanding full time job, I have a very active social life, and I volunteer in several ways. I choose how I spend my time, and answering random and vague requests for help from people I don't know several hours out of the week is not on that list.

What Does Job Hopping Say About You? Wed, 26 Aug 2015 16:05:57 -0800 Conquent
But here's the thing. Her previous role was her first job out of grad school, in a new city that has a healthy economy. Turns out it wasn't a good fit, so she found something new, which is OK. Her reason for leaving the current role is lack of growth, not a toxic work environment. (Neither of them was retail/hospitality, both were office jobs.)

As a recruiter, if she applied to a job I was hiring for, she would probably not even make a first run of short-list candidates, and here is why.

-Obvious lack of commitment to full time employers. It takes a lot of time, money, and resources to train a new person for any job.
-What skills can she possibly have learned in such short stints? Companies hire for longevity and flexibility
-Candidate exhibits no direction in making career choices

-Something must be wrong with this candidate if she cannot manage to stay employed in two entry level jobs in less than a year.

Even if, for some reason, she made it to a phone screen with a recruiter, by saying a she is leaving a job she has only been in for four months due to "lack of opportunity", my first thought would be, "well then why did you take the job in the first place" and my second would be, "wow, my company has a policy of requiring employees to stay in their jobs at least a year before looking for a promotion...obviously she is not a fit." (The "one year in one job" policy is pretty standard with most medium to large companies.) Finally, "Unrealistic expectations, isn't willing to learn everything she can for a year...more effort than she is worth."

I have built a reputation and career for myself as a recruiter, but before that, I spent more than a decade contracting to build my skills. It wasn't easy, and I was living on meager wages for longer than I care to contemplate at this point. But the difference is, I *contracted*; I learned on the job at companies that valued a finite amount of time in a role, and I completed EVERY CONTRACT I ever held. For someone that has a difficult time settling on one job/company, contracting may be a viable way to go. It was a somewhat precarious lifestyle, but it has paid off for me in the end.

Every career opportunity is a tradeoff: benefits, money, work-life balance, career advancement. I would never counsel someone to stay in a toxic work environment. But I will say that the majority of my hiring managers don't want to talk to someone with a ton of short employment stints (less than a year) unless they are in a known poor economic geography - which Seattle has not been for the last several years. For someone just out of school and very little work experience, this is the equivalent of long-term career suicide.
Career Advancement - Ways To Succeed Mon, 31 Aug 2015 19:11:58 -0800 Conquent
To me this indicates a company either doesn’t have a viable career transition plan in place or that an employee has tried to expand his or her opportunities and has met with resistance. It is important to note that almost all medium to large employers have standard guidelines in place to qualify for internal promotions such as a specific amount of time in your current role and a minimum score on performance reviews. If I am considering an internal candidate for a role, I always check these two factors before even submitting a candidate to a hiring manager.

When I am considering a candidate for a role that is a career advancement for them, the most important factors for me are: do they have the requisite skills for the position, and does the candidate have enough demonstrated experience using those skills to justify a level change (i.e. from a “software engineer” to a “senior software engineer”, or a “staff accountant” to a “senior accountant.”) If a candidate has earned a certification or taken vocational training to enhance their skills, I am looking for academic/portfolio pieces that reflect the training they pursued; these need to be on their resume in detail and reflect actual work that the candidate expects to be doing with the new found skills. I prefer to see this sort of career enhancement on an internal rather than external candidate, because they can work with their current lead or manager on “stretch” assignments that allow them to build relevant work experience immediately.

Stretch assignments are a great way to try new opportunities with you current employer. Talk to your manager about adding some duties to your regular workload. For example, if you are the company receptionist, ask if you can help the HR or recruiting department schedule training or interviews, or work with some of the Executive Assistants on travel arrangements. If you can consistently balance your regular workload with extra projects for a few months, that is a signal that you are ready to move on in your career. Some companies do have formal stretch programs or career “rotations” where you can formally spend time in a new role exploring options. Check with your HR department to see if these exist.

I look for a progression of responsibility on a resume for a candidate looking to advance in their career. A year is about the minimum amount of time in a specific job to learn it. Eighteen months to two years is a preferable amount of time to learn and become proficient in a specific job. Volunteering is also a valid way to display skills, especially if they enhance your current career path. Teaching and writing are also a great way to display skills that may or may not be part of your “day” job. Writing can include a blog that discusses the area you are hoping to move into regularly (including detailed examples of the topic and your opinion or ways you are using the information). If you are pursuing a tech career, Github projects are key.

An example would be a friend that had a career in legal operations for over ten years, but who volunteered for a local music non-profit for three years as the Executive Director as well as managed an indie band part-time. After moving to NYC, she was looking for a new job but was trying to figure out how to include both aspects of her career interests to increase her marketability; my advice was to use two distinct resumes, one for each separate career track. She did that and ended up in a legal operations role and volunteering for a social justice non-profit that she is hoping to turn into a full time job eventually.

Moving Up In Your Career - Assessing Companies, Improving Your Marketability Wed, 28 Oct 2015 11:57:24 -0800 Conquent
Usually the two types of companies with the greatest career advancement opportunities are going to be quite large or quite small. If you are looking at making a change with an eye towards advancement opportunities, it is worth considering both of those options. It is relatively easy to learn if a large company promotes from within. Take a look on for reviews from current and former employees. It is also helpful to read news articles and press releases that reflect on corporate culture (remember the recent NY Times article about If you do get hired at a large company, take time to look at the different departments and career paths that might be of interest to you, then seek out someone you admire and ask them if they are willing to be a mentor. If they say yes, make sure you have a good idea of what your own career goals are and ask them if they can help you learn what steps you need to take to prepare yourself to move into that sort of role, including internal contacts, projects that might be valuable to be part of (ie an assessment committee for workplace safety, a grant review committee if at a large company with a Foundation, or maybe putting together an after-work soccer team). Make the acquaintance of people that may have valuable contacts in departments/roles such as marketing, HR/recruiting, sales, helpdesk, and administrative assistants. Large companies offer valuable networking potential as well as role models and mentors.

Smaller companies may be a bit more difficult to suss out, but here is where LinkedIn can be a valuable tool. Research current employees of a company and see if they have held multiple positions with increasingly more responsible titles. For example, they started right out of school with an accounting degree in Accounts Receivable, then moved into a Staff Accounting role, then into a Sr. Accounting or Accounting Manager position. If someone’s titles are increasing every 18-24 months, it is a good indicator that the company moves people up in a timely manner.

Another advantage with smaller companies is the fact that you will probably be wearing more than one “hat”, which increases your learning potential and opportunities to shine. You may learn valuable new skills that complement existing training and experience to increase your marketability.

Stretch assignments are a great way to try new opportunities with you current employer. Talk to your manager about adding some duties to your regular workload. For example, if you are the company receptionist, ask if you can help the HR or recruiting department schedule training or interviews, or work with some of the Executive Assistants on travel arrangements. If you can consistently balance your regular workload with extra projects for a few months, that is a signal that you are ready to move on in your career. Some companies do have formal stretch programs or career “rotations” where you can formally spend time in a new role exploring options. Check with your HR department to see if these exist.

One valuable way of increasing your marketability while you are at a potential standstill in your current company is to volunteer for a professional organization that can help you learn valuable skills and make industry connections. An example would be a friend that had a career in legal operations for over ten years, but who volunteered for a local music non-profit for three years as the Executive Director as well as managed an indie band part-time. After moving to NYC, she was looking for a new job but was trying to figure out how to include both aspects of her career interests to increase her marketability; my advice was to use two distinct resumes, one for each separate career track. She did that and ended up in a legal operations role and volunteering for a social justice non-profit that she is hoping to turn into a full time job eventually.

One of the largest ways to find opportunities is Volunteer Match, which is a national organization. Idealist has both volunteer opportunities and a job board. (Remember to focus your search on *professional* skills building opportunities for the immediate short term, versus feel-good championing causes that appeal to you long-term.) Volunteering has three advantages: you can gain marketable skills, make valuable contacts, and provide yourself with legitimate resume content to help steer your career in the direction you are hoping to go. ]]>
WHY So Many Interviews?! Fri, 20 Nov 2015 13:58:24 -0800 Conquent
My last three jobs have all entailed at least two separate days of interviews with multiple people. People always ask me why the organization is scheduling multiple days of interviews. Believe it or not, it is considered a better candidate experience to spread interviews over a couple of different days than try and have a 3 hour break in the middle. Here are some of the reasons:

• It takes 1-2 hours to schedule a short interview loop (2-3 people). Keep in mind that everyone on the loop has busy schedules (think about it, they are doing extra work which is why there is an opening in the first place!), and scheduling successive appointments is like trying to figure out a jigsaw puzzle. If people decline, or don't respond you need to keep on them for their responses.
• If it is an urgent role to fill, the thought is get you in to see at least a few people rather than wait longer to try and piece together the schedule.
• At some businesses conference rooms are at a premium, and in an open concept office you only have a finite number of options for private conversations. Great for collaboration, poor for confidential or intense 1:1 meetings.
• Some highly collaborative businesses are looking more at your cultural fit than you skills; they may want you to meet with more people that you will interact with. This is especially true at startup (either early or late stage) companies. They tend to be more consensus driven than other companies.
• You may have impressed the team with your background and they have other opportunities they want to explore with you and people they didn't realize they would need on the interview loop.
• There may be an industry conference, visiting executives/clients, or a product release that is tying up the schedules of one or more of the teams you need to meet with which causes a delay.
• The higher up the management chain a decision maker is, the harder it is to get time blocked on their schedule. It isn't that interviewing isn't a priority, it's that it is one of MANY priorities.

It may be difficult to remember, but when a company keeps bringing you *back* for interviews it is a very positive sign. It means that you are still in consideration and that you are consistently "wowing" them.
Defining "Experience" in Job Descriptions Mon, 11 Jan 2016 12:34:51 -0800 Conquent
As collegiates (both bachelor's and graduate level) start trying to line up their jobs, they start applying to a variety of positions. If they are foreign students looking for a US company to eventually offer them an H1-B/Green Card, it becomes even more critical that they understand how recruiting defines and evaluates "experience" when it comes to jobs, leveling, and titles.

The most important thing to understand is that a new grad with no *professional work history* will most likely never be considered for a mid-level (or higher) job. There is a specific recruiting specialty title called a Campus Recruiter (not to be confused with a "college" or "university" recruiter - this is a position within higher education that recruits STUDENTS to the school). Campus recruiters generally hire interns and new graduates; most large companies have at least one person that works directly with college/university students. They focus on candidates that don't have much in the way of professional experience (excepting perhaps internships.) It is very important for students to understand that the recruiting and interview process is different for an industry candidate (a year or more of solid professional experience) than it is for a student. There are levels of evaluation in an industry interview that touch upon how a candidate has done things in a professional setting. Scholastic projects, short internships, even monetized personal projects aren't going to be relevant. For graduate students, the line may be a bit blurrier based on TA, Fellowships, and research projects and will depend on the individual.

There is also the fact that companies have several different layers of legal requirements for the Federal Government that often dictate how we define various levels of experience. (One of them is USCIS.) Legally, an employer may not be *able* to consider an entry level candidate for a job requiring several years of industry experience.

What about those professionals without a degree looking to move or graduate students with a work history that have gone back to school to pursue a new line of work? The key here in the job *requirements* are the magic words "or equivalent." For those without a degree, a very conservative formula is 2-3 years of experience that would give you the same knowledge as attending collegiate classes. Experience gained may be paid, project, or volunteer.

Things to consider if you are trying to figure out equivalencies:

• Is the experience you are trying to leverage recent and up to date? It should be skills you are using often, regularly, and you should be an "advanced" practitioner of the skill for it to be considered relevant. If it is out of date, chances are you will not be considered for the position. Most employers are looking to fill jobs reactively, (not proactively) which means they aren't going to be taking time to give you a refresher on outdated skills.

• Do you have enough breadth and depth of experience to be able to handle variances or odd situations that might crop up while using the skill? These are the types of questions that may come up in an interview for someone that doesn't have the educational foundation to draw upon.

• Does your resume adequately show your history practicing the skills that are relevant to the position? Especially in cases of equivalency, you will need to be much more detailed in your past history to show that you actually *do* have the relevant skills. You will need to do that by putting more detailed project work under your job headings to show that you have done what they are asking for. *DO NOT USE A FUNCTIONAL RESUME* if you are doing this. A reverse chronologic format is going to be the way you make the connection between your recent employment and the needs of the employer.

Although many candidates feel it is unfair or even discriminatory to require degrees for certain jobs, the reasons a company may do so most likely have a grounding in legal issues. Looking at smaller companies where there is more room to grow is one viable option in these cases. Just because a company is small don't overlook the potential to make a huge impact.

Finally, if you have not finished or obtained a degree and it is barring you professionally, it may be time to consider getting that degree. With online options and a plethora of accredited schools offering flexible learning and credit or "real life" or professional experience, it may be worth re-exploring.

Coding Bootcamp And Career Prospects Tue, 19 Jan 2016 09:56:24 -0800 Conquent

I told him that it depends on the coding language/s he decides to pursue, what his existing background is, and what he wants to do when he finishes. In my experience, the most successful graduates of such a program already have some sort of professional technology background (which he does), and I have observed that web development has an easier time than someone trying to learn back-end or middle tier programming language. In addition, if he decides to follow this path, he would be better served to start identifying companies that would interest him and hit LinkedIn for networking purposes; managers are his best bet. I also suggested he target small, startup companies as often they have more flexibility and cultural bias to hire someone thinking "outside of the box." Larger companies may seem more attractive due to their stability, but the larger the company the more rigid and restrictive their hiring practices are, generally as it relates to government compliance issues and reporting on their hiring practices.

To help him start his search, I suggested he look up VC's (Venture Capitalists) and start targeting their portfolio pages and to hit the local tech news site that has a list of startups on it. He lives in a tech-centric area, so it should not be too difficult. Another way to start off a new career would be to work with some temporary placement agencies (Robert Half IT, Volt, etc.) It is also a good idea to start playing in coding sandboxes like Github or StackOverflow where you can do actual work alongside other people, which is priceless when looking for a new job; put your profile link on your resume right next to your contact information and LinkedIn URL.

Keep in mind that jump starting your career with an intensive training program may also mean you will take a salary hit for the first year or two, depending on where you live/work and what your coding portfolio looks like. You are (probably) leaving a job where you had gained some level of seniority and are now starting as an entry-level employee. You may expect your lifetime earnings to increase dramatically, but like any new graduate, you are going to be at the beginning stages of "proving" yourself for about 12-24 months.
What Are Professional Certifications Really Worth? Wed, 3 Feb 2016 13:21:22 -0800 Conquent
As a recruiter, I have a very pragmatic view of most professional certifications:

-If it is in your existing field you are paying to take a test saying you know how to do your job.
-A certification intending to help you move into a new field is nothing more than a passing grade in an elective class.

The truth is, THEORY and PRACTICE are vastly different things and for an experienced candidate (and I am speaking of workforce experience in this instance, not specific job-related skills), practical application will win out every time. And, depending on the actual certifications, may do more harm than good. For a certification to have any impact at all in terms of being an asset to your job search, it must be sponsored and administered by a professional organization that is recognized as a valuable market resource for the field; or, it must be something you need to become licensed to practice your occupation, such as a CPA. Usually the more valuable versions require a minimum amount of time actually practicing your profession before you can even apply to take the certification exam.

Some examples of relevant certifications:

-PHR - this is an extensive certification process requiring a minimum amount of HR experience and intensive testing. It is administered by the de facto international HR professional organization, the Society or Human Resources.

-PMI/PMP certification - Project Management certification by the Project Management Institute

MSCPx - Microsoft Certifications for a variety of technical disciplines.

CCP- Certified Compensation Professional

SixSigma if you are in manufacturing.

Some employers require specific certifications to even apply for a position, but most will look at a certification as a "nice to have" that will help make the decision between two or more relatively equal candidates.

If you choose to list certifications on your resume, make sure that they are relevant to the role you are applying for. A certification will never substitute for matriculated education or experience. Listing a certification you took in 1998 for a job in an industry you haven't even been in for over a decade is a waste of space and conveys the wrong message to potential employers. You want to make sure you are focusing on what you bring to the table *now* and how you can solve a need the employer has.

Think very carefully before you pay money for a course to become certified in something for which you have no experience just because it sounds interesting or appealing. For example, there has been a surge in "life coaching" in the last decade or so. Life coaching is a nebulous field with absolutely no regulation or professional standards. (I personally would never consult a "life coach" that didn't have a background in counseling of some sort.) Setting yourself up as qualified for something you are not can backfire and do more harm than good.

Brand Name Companies: The Myth of the "Hidden Job Market" Tue, 16 Feb 2016 15:19:58 -0800 Conquent
The reason? Federal compliance issues. There are several branches of the US government that have compliance regulatory requirements as it relates to hiring practices. For large companies, the main two are OFCCP (part of EEOC and Affirmative Action) and USCIS (Immigration). Both of them carry similar but different requirements that mean those brand name organizations must follow procedures that amount to this: *ALL jobs that are open to external candidates must be posted publically*. Candidates also need to understand the meaning of "advertised". In the recruiting world, "advertised" is used specifically with putting a job posting somewhere other than your own website. In today's world, unless you are talking about a very small business, *most* employers have a website and list their openings. "Job boards" are going the way of the dodo bird or morphing into new services. If you are job searching, your better option is using job aggregators. or are the top job search aggregators. A huge bonus on is that you can post your resume for free, and recruiters can search those resumes at no charge. During my most recent job search, I posted my resume on on a Monday and had no fewer than a dozen recruiters contacting *me*by Thursday, all before I even started reaching out to my own network. The best place to look for open jobs is actually on a company's corporate career page. Set up job alerts when you are even only casually looking at target employers.

Those that tout ways to uncover the "hidden job market" are basically talking about networking, which is still absolutely vital for any position regardless of the size of the company. It isn't enough to just apply for a job; you need to actually then get someone's attention.

• Knowing someone with a manager, Director, VP or C-level title at a company is almost guaranteed to get you noticed. That being said, unless they are the actual hiring manager, they don't have a lot of say in the process other than to just pass your resume along. If it is the hiring manager, you are golden.

• The first and very best way to get seriously noticed for a position you are qualified and interested in is via an employee referral. Many companies reward employees making referrals that lead to actual hires with monetary incentives. When I worked at (in a non-recruiting function) I made over $3K in employee referrals in six months by referring friends and former colleagues to roles on my team. As a recruiter I have a pretty solid track record of hiring employee referrals; it's a key metric for me as employee referrals are also the most cost effective way to hire great employees.

• After an employee referral, finding a recruiter at a large company is your next best way to get noticed. When I find a local position of interest, I fill out the application then reach out to one of my contacts to see about letting the recruiter know I have applied. They key to this strategy is to include the job ID number, which should be near the top or bottom of the job posting and send your resume. Recruiters can generally look in the company's Applicant Tracking System to see who the recruiter (or even the hiring manager) on a specific job is and pass along a strong candidate's resume. They may or may not know the recruiter, depending on where the job is and where the recruiters are in the organization.

Networking occurs on several levels. In today's business world, probably the most relevant tool online is LinkedIn, especially when you are looking for contacts. Recruiters live for LinkedIn contacts, and sales/marketing folks also use it daily for their business. But many professionals don't use it except when they are looking for a job or to glean industry information. If you are going to reach out to someone, make sure that you *write them a personalized note* from your computer, and don't just hit the mobile "connect" feature on your phone (unless you are at a conference talking to them). Which brings me to the next level of networking...face to face events, be it an industry conference, a event, dinner celebrating someone's birthday, church social, volunteer committee meeting, or even a conversation on the bus: face to face meetings and follow ups are still the number one way to make connections. If you are meeting people you don't know or only casually know, then make sure you can articulate what you want, but don't sound like an elevator pitch (this sounds like you are desperate and just looking for any way to get out of your current situation, whatever that may be.) LinkedIn on your cell phone and business cards are still the best way to exchange information in today's fast-paced world.

Be strategic but broad in your job search; and even if you aren't searching for new job, certainly be open to new opportunities. Be realistic as well: don't rely on other people to conduct your search for you; this includes paid services/professionals as well recruiters from agencies that represent you for either contract or full time positions.
Salary Negotiations Tue, 19 Jul 2016 18:15:06 -0800 Conquent
What IS/not negotiable in a job offer?

Usually money and titles.
–It is a fallacy that “everything is negotiable”.
–The smaller the company the more items may be negotiable.
–Money isn’t just about your base salary –think in terms of total compensation: relocation, equity (stock/ESPP/401k match), sign-on, benefits, bonus potential, perks (flex time, WFH options, subsidized/employer paid lunch).

EVERY Job Has A Range
•Every position has a pre-set range for the base salary.
•Recruiters and hiring managers generally are required to stick to that range.
*You may be up-leveled based on your experience.
•Most companies prefer to mitigate a gap in compensation with either stock/equity or sign-on bonus.
•A recruiter will ask you what you are looking for/what you are currently making; this is to make sure that the company can “afford” you.
•You want to get as much money as you can in your base salary; bonuses are usually a percentage of your base.

Do your research
–Understand what your market value is in your field/job.
–Use tools such as
<a href=""> Payscale</a>,
<a href=""></a>, and avoid
<a href=""> Glassdoor</a> (it is self-reported and wildly inaccurate)
to build an idea of your market worth
–Develop a RANGE for your base salary ask
•Ask near the top of the range
•Be willing to negotiate down a bit
•Have a firm “bottom line” number
•REMEMBER TOTAL COMPENSATION IN YOUR STRATEGY. If you get an offer making $10K less than your current job but you get 4 weeks of paid time off (vs. 2 weeks), that is a significant and valuable trade off.

Generally less/not negotiable:
Vacation/time off
•If the company closes for a week towards the end of the year, make sure to ask if that is paid time off or requires you to use vacation/PTO.
The larger/more established the company, the more stringent their guidelines for time off will generally be.

*Unless there is a policy in place across the organization, remote working options are generally the purview of the hiring manager, not the recruiter

Building Relationships
•Almost any recruiter will ask you your salary requirements
•This is the time to set transparency in the relationship.
•It is OK to ask what the general range is for the role-make sure you listen and hear the ENTIRE range not just the top end.
•SHARE your expectations now. Trying to hold off until you are expecting an offer could cost you the opportunity to advance to the next stage of the process.

•Ask the fiscal year dates of an employer or check out their financials.
•Starting in the first 3-6 months may mean you are eligible for a bonus and raise. If you are starting in the latter half of the year, you will probably see a sign-on in lieu of a raise/bonus.

FT placement vs. contracting
•For a full time placement the agency is going to try and get you the MOST money (they are paid a commission based on your annual base salary)
•For a contract they are going to try and get the LEAST amount of money (the difference between what they bill the client and pay you on an hourly basis is their profit margin.)
•Contractors generally make more money, but with less stability

•If you decide to do independent consulting as a 1099 contractor, you need to understand the formula for charging for your work, covering expenses, and saving for taxes.
•Dan Flak has an
<a href="">excellent grid</a>
that shows you the basics of figuring out what you need to make as a 1099 consultant.

The AAA’s In Hiring Today (Age, Attitude, Adaptability) Tue, 16 Aug 2016 09:18:21 -0800 Conquent
I am the same age as the person that originally brought the NYT article to my attention. I am a few years younger than the freelancer without the degree. I am also a middle-aged recruiter in the very youth-centric tech industry. I have had a robust career for over fifteen years in my chosen profession and preferred industry. I am quite literally at the top of my career, with a professional brand and name recognition among my peers. Of the candidates I have hired in the last six months, at least 20% of them are over 40. One thing that an older employee/candidate has is: an established professional network and (hopefully) the skills to use it. As a recruiter, networking is still the primary way to find a new opportunity.

I am not going to deny that ageism exists both for older and younger workers, because that would be a lie. I will admit that from an employer perspective, there is definitely a monetary element to the practice…older candidates are perceived to be more expensive from a compensation perspective than their younger peers.
But there is a flip side to this conversation, and it is the other “A” traits I see:

“Attitude” and “Adaptability”
If you read any of the comments pertaining to age-related content, you will see very distinct responses from the sample population (let’s go with “over 45” at this juncture). The first type is “woe is me” and “the good old days” and “when I was young…” Conversely, there is a smaller subset that identifies as getting along with a younger workforce as SME’s and mentors; has reinvented their careers, up to and including starting their own businesses; sees the changing landscape as part and parcel of life, exciting and challenging.

This leads me to my second “A” – adaptability
One of the very biggest beliefs and complaints about older workers is their inability or refusal to adapt to change: new technology, updated tools, different methodology, workplace trends, etc. I have countless personal anecdotes of my chronologic peers who adamantly refuse to change their perceptions and work styles. It is this lack of adaptability that is more of a detriment to *any* candidate than their actual age.

As a recruiter I get a constant stream of requests for help with resumes, job/candidate leads, subject matter expertise, job hunting strategies, and marketing/branding ideas. There has been a significant uptick in the number of older workers looking to either stay employed, eke out a few more years of corporate work, or even find something new as an employee. Here is the thing: I am happy to help or make suggestions, send resources your way, answer recruiting/job search questions, even leverage my network on your behalf if I know you. But if you keep saying the same things over and over (“attitude”) then you’ll lose my interest and willingness to support your efforts. As a veteran recruiter, believe me when I say I have seen and heard just about everything. Those of us in a position to help are generally happy to…but we help those that help themselves. Referrals from people that we help are the bread and butter for us when we try to fill difficult roles. So it is in our own professional best interests to pay it forward.

I’m going to flip this conversation to the reverse form of ageism…not hiring entry-level, or very young, candidates. The general profile of a candidate in my current recruiting queue has 2-6 years of *industry* experience and a degree (BS/MS). Today’s younger candidates generally have little problem with “adaptability” in terms of learning new skills (especially in technology). However, our culture has raised a large generation of young adults that lack critical thinking skills. It is a result of over-parenting (aka “helicopter”) and an educational system that teaches students all the skills necessary to work in a group of people, but not how to problem solve individually and rewards “showing up” as much as excelling, and learning to take tests rather than solve problems and communicate well. (Don’t believe me? There is a school system nearby that has weighted 40% of a student’s grade is *attendance*. If you just show up and do minimal work you can slide by). Human beings learn and grow from our *failures*. I don’t believe that the majority of young adults are given the tools needed for coping with the modern corporate culture. I understand a lot of their frustration with it, and why there are so many young entrepreneurs. And this is changing, but it is a slow metamorphosis.

I see the same attitudes from younger workers that I see from their older counterparts: an expectation that the workplace should adapt to *their* perceived wants and needs, and a refusal or inability to actually try and understand why the status quo (whatever it may be) exists. Instead of looking at an opportunity to learn and possibly affect change from within, I see and hear complaints about stagnation, lack of opportunity/speed of recognition, failure to provide for them, and an often infantile need for constant attention and hand-holding. When you go to work, you are being paid to do a job. You should be given reasonable tools and training to achieve that, but it is *your* responsibility to actually learn, ask questions, synthesize information and get started on actually working. In the professional world, no news is good news. Meaning if your manager/lead doesn’t tell you something needs improvement, you are doing well. It is more than reasonable to expect regular 1:1 meetings to go over your career trajectory, your performance, and to answer questions. You should be given the resources (people and tools) to actually do your job. It is NOT okay to demand constant reassurance from someone that has many other competing priorities. It is definitely not permissible to expect other people to spoon feed you information that you should be able to find once you have access to it.

So whether you are a baby-boomer still kicking around in the workforce, a GenX’er trying to figure out being “Jan” in your office, or a Digital Native/Millennial just starting out on your professional path, there are alpha traits that can make your career and life much more rewarding and fulfilling.
The All Purpose College Major Sat, 10 Sep 2016 17:21:12 -0800 Conquent
So from my professional position as a recruiter, and my personal experience as a liberal arts major, here is my suggestion: go for a general business major (BBA, Bachelor of Business Administration). You can pick a concentration, minor, or double major along the pathway if you decide.

There are so many unemployed college graduates out there, and I cannot tell you how many MBA candidates I talk to that went back to get their MBA when they could not find a job doing anything meaningful with their drama, music, English, history, anthropology, or other take-your-pick-liberal-arts-degree. A business major at least gives you a basic skill set that can help you find an entry-level job. From a recruiting perspective, I can make a case to a hiring manager to hire an entry level business major that at least *understands* marketing or accounting concepts much more than I can for a philosophy major that has no idea that EBIDTA is a business acronym let alone what it stands for/relates to. From a personal perspective, I can tell you that I loved my major (Classical Humanities with a Medieval History minor), I learned valuable research skills that stand me in good stead, but it took me almost a DECADE to actually get started on anything remotely resembling a career path. I worked temp office (no benefits), retail, and call-center customer service jobs before I was able to network into a job that led me where I am today. (Oh, and that included a 2000-mile cross-country move on my own for personal reasons.) My LinkedIn profile and resume look amazingly different the last ten years from the first decade. Thank heavens.

The job market has changed significantly in the last decade due to a number of factors. If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I try and give no-nonsense job seeking suggestions from the side of someone involved intimately with the hiring process. I certainly will not tell someone not to pursue a passion, only give you realistic advice about actually finding a *job* at the end of it. ]]>
Today's Job Hunt Tools Wed, 26 Oct 2016 13:29:39 -0800 Conquent
If you have not looked for a job in the last decade, the rules of engagement have changed. A lot. You may or may not be able to network your way into a new job; it does happen, but you will probably still need to go through an electronic application process. If not, here are some tips that may be helpful.

1) LinkedIn: have a profile, update it with relevant information, request RECOMMENDATIONS from peers, managers, and clients. There are endorsements and recommendations. The difference is that a recommendation is a written reference. An endorsement is a "click here if you think this person exhibits these skills". Endorsements are more important. Many companies have policies against written references after a layoff, so do it while you are technically still employed. This is how recruiters and hiring managers make evaluations when considering candidates. LinkedIn also has great job postings.

2) is useful for two reasons. First, you can upload your resume and recruiters can find you for free. You can keep your contact info private so that you don't get spammed, but you should definitely upload your resume. Make sure you are very explicit about what you are looking for. This is one of the only times I advocate an objective in addition to a summary.

"Seasoned accounting manager seeking full time position in the greater Springfield area; not open to relocation. Please, no sales jobs."

From a job seeking perspective, Indeed scrapes websites for job postings then aggregates them. You can do a search on key words and location. When you find something of interest, *always go to the corporate website to make sure it is still open*. Indeed doesn't update results. If a job posting is more than 30 days old, chances are it isn't active anymore, but a quick check on the employer's website can tell you if it is.

3) has two valuable functions. It has a job board, and it also has sections where employees and candidates leave reviews about the company, interview questions, and basically you can research an employer's brand.

4) Once you have applied to a position, use LinkedIn to network and get some notice. The single best way into any company is an employee referral. The second is a recruiter referral. Use LinkedIn to reach these folks.

When you finally identify the sorts of positions and target companies, you will need to fill out the online application. Yes, it is a pain. But there are federal compliance guidelines that have impacted the way companies recruit new external talent. Some important things to remember:

-If a job posting has a "requirements" section, most likely if you don't match the REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS then you aren't a fit for the job. You can stretch something in terms of experience if is is a few months. For example, if it states "Five+ years of experience in a support role" and you have 4 years and 8 months, go ahead and at least try. If a job posting says "recent" that means within the last year, not eight years ago.

-A resume is a marketing tool, an application is a *legal* workflow document. There are times you may leave something off your resume (maybe a six month period of unemployment, a short temp job, or sabbatical), but you SHOULD include it in the application history in the proper place if you were employed.

-If an application requires a salary history, try "$1,000". Often they will not accept just a one or zero and require a number.

-In the fields requesting your supervisor and contact information, put "NA" if you don't have any.

-In the "references" section, this is where you would list people that have offered to be a professional reference that is *not* your current immediate supervisor. They should be people that know you, your work, and can speak to you professionally; it isn't for personal references.

-Make a note if there is any "Job number" associated with the position for networking purposes. You will want to include the URL of the job and any job number associated with the position when you are referencing it in your networking efforts.

Don't forget to lock down your social media profiles if you are an avid user of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Remember, a quick Google search will find you easily enough. Make sure you don't have anything that could hurt your chances of landing a new job. Pictures, racy content, overly political/religious/controversial topics are all reasons not to consider you for a position. ]]>
Resume Basics Redux Thu, 1 Dec 2016 11:43:51 -0800 Conquent
Some examples of resume glaring errors in the last couple of weeks:

-Someone that applied for a job with specific requirements. I sent him a decline based on his lack of relevant experience.

US: Thank you for your interest in our open position, but at this time we are only considering applicants that meet our minimum qualifications. (listed out)
Candidate: I do meet that. It's just not on my resume.

-This morning I received a resume from a veteran. I really try to hire vets whenever I can, and his skill set is something that *could* be a match. He listed out his title, and some impressive accomplishments but nowhere on his resume did he talk about the actual *SKILLS* that are required on the job description. (I sent him an email and told him that I would love to consider him if he could update his resume to show what relevant skills he has.)

-You have heard it time and again, and it is true: never allude to things on your resume that indicate marital status, orientation, religion, ethnicity, gender, political affiliations etc. (gender is difficult based on your name.) I counsel folks that have actual work experience or relevant volunteer experience to put it in terms such as "12 month sabbatical for membership drive for global non-profit; increased local membership directly by 35%" for a religious mission. As this recent election cycle in the US (and even Great Britain with Brexit) has shown us, politics are polarizing, so while it is fine to indicate you worked on a political campaign, keep the party affiliation and candidate to yourself.

This particular resume entry is a huge red flag for me that a candidate used to describe his entrepreneurship:...""which I built out of my own pocket with the help of the Lord God."

What I, as a recruiter, need to see when I look at your resume.

1) Your professional (which can include RELEVANT volunteer experience, ie it uses your professional skill set) history and the SPECIFIC skills you have that map to the job description requirements.

Regarding volunteering "relevancy": A few years ago I helped a friend with his resume. He had received a sizable inheritance after he finished college and for a long time lived off of that. When he finally needed a job he didn't know what to do. But as a hobbyist, he created and sold specialized hand-crafted sports equipment, which I informed him made him a small business owner with basic business skills. (Yes, he got a job a few weeks later.) I volunteer in several capacities for either industry training for recruiters, or in a function that basically drives new membership recruitment and retention for a non-profit, and are directly relevant to my career.

On the topic of requirements: thanks to the federal government in the last decade, a large portion of companies are now subject to federal guidelines that require employers to hire strictly to whatever their established basic "must have this/these skills to perform this job at this level" levels are. They key here is MUST and REQUIRED. If you don't have these qualifications, you are NOT GOING TO BE CONSIDERED. It is a legal issue, not employers being overly picky. (Although I will not deny that this happens.)

2) Contact information. I need (preferably a phone number and email address), ways to contact you. I will not necessarily disqualify you if you live out of the area, because people are mobile these days (and area codes are no long and indicator of residence). If you are a strong candidate for a job, chances are I will at least send you to the hiring manager. UNLESS you are out of the country. My current employer does not offer any sort of immigration support, so unless you already have an active green card (and put it on your resume) or are an expat (which is helpful to know on your resume) I'm not going to consider you. At all. No matter how well you fit the job requirements.

3) Your education: this is formal, matriculated school such as high school, community college, or university. If you have been out of your formal educational institution for a YEAR OR LESS, it goes at the top of your resume (Doctoral programs are the exception to that rule such as academia, medicine, or law.)

If a job specifies that a Bachelors, Master's, or PhD is required and does not have "or equivalent experience" then that means you MUST POSSESS THE DEGREE for consideration. And yes employers verify it.
You can include partial college under your education, but still include the course of study and the years you attended. Caveat: if you try and "fudge" a degree, it creates a negative impression under closer scrutiny. Do yourself a favor and just be honest.

It *can* include specialized training for certification for your job/industry such as real estate licensing, CPA, S/PHR, etc. If you obtained a certification necessary or highly relevant to your job, you can include it in your education OR under a summary of qualifications (which I recommend). But you don't need to list out classes/areas of concentration. If you have attended something like a dev boot camp, be aware that it does not replace the need for a (technical) degree if it is in the job description. It is TRAINING not formal MATRICULATION.

The education section does NOT include every software, leadership, online course, self-help book, etc. that you have taken/used for professional development. If you received training on a piece of industry technology that you use daily, this should be part of your job entries, not a footnote on training. If you AREN'T using training you received in your current job, don't even bother to include it.

Bottom line: experience outstrips theory every time.

4) Listing hobbies are fine in moderation, but I don't need things like "I make a mean frittata" or "volunteer for XYZ dog rescue, and I have five special needs corgies that I adopted"; the first is irrelevant unless you are looking at restaurant jobs, the second is a red flag about your priorities. Sports/martial arts, musical/artistic pursuits, community activism (NOT religious), travel are all fine. Speaking one or more languages with conversational or better fluency is always a bonus; high school Spanish that you never use and don't remember does NOT make you bilingual.

But make sure you don't list so many "extra curricular" passions that you look like it is a part time job competing with your paying career.

Good luck in your job search! Leave questions in the comments section of you have them!

Recent Coding Bootcamp Grads - You Probably Aren't "Full Stack" Engineers Wed, 29 Mar 2017 10:18:13 -0800 Conquent
But with the rise of coding bootcamps, I have seen a corresponding increase in bootcamp graduates that bill themselves as “full stack engineers”. Here’s the problem: a 12, or 16, or 20 week program is NOT going to prepare you for a “full stack engineering role”. I’m not saying this to be overly selective, or to try and screen out candidates, but for the simple fact that in the last 4-5 years when I have passed bootcamp grads to hiring teams for technical phone calls or even interviews, *none of them have passed muster because they don’t have strong computer science fundamentals.* Let me be clear: I generally work for technology companies that are involved in either e-commerce or actual software products/services. I am not referring to creative agencies, or small web development consulting companies which are often a great landing spot for bootcamp graduates. Yes, it *is* possible to learn full stack development “on the job” but the truth is that if my hiring manager is looking for someone with at least a theoretic/academic understanding of binary trees and data structures gleaned from a Computer Science program, spending 25% of the last two weeks of a bootcamp having “exposure” to computer science fundamentals isn’t going to make you qualified as a full stack software developer.

The main difference between Java, C#, C++ - compiled languages - and Python, Ruby, Javascript, Perl, PHP and other interpretive languages involves how your computer receives directions on what to do with the code. Compiled code can be executed directly by the CPU, while interpretive languages still need a translator or other vehicle for implementing the commands of the code; compiled code executes at a much faster rate than interpreted code. Interpretive code has its own advantages as well such as being platform-independent. Stack Overflow has a great overview of the differences and similarities between the two. (

Computer Science as a discipline generally deals with learning not only compiling languages but also the mechanics, mathematics, and logic behind creating the entire ecosystem and bridge between hardware and software. “Software Engineering” as a career and discipline rely on a complete knowledge of those principles, which takes several years to learn. If you want to become a full stack developer, you need to understand and be able to implement coding concepts and solutions such as:


-Binary trees

-Data structures

Typical coding questions will include specifics such as: reverse a linked list; reverse a string using a recursive algorithm; write a program to convert binary to decimal values; write a program to find the sum of the first 100 prime numbers. These questions are directed to EVERY full stack engineer, whether they are primarily being hired for a front end position or not.

Thanks to platforms like Coursera, Udacity, and other online tools it is possible to learn the fundamentals, but it still takes a huge time investment beyond what you have in a bootcamp. If you decide to go down this path, develop your software portfolio by working on public collaboration sites like Github or Stack Overflow. Be prolific, and include your project ID on your resume. Write a small game, or some sort of a tool independently. And remember, when you *are* interviewing, companies want to know about your singular and specific contributions to the projects you work on; they aren’t interested in what your team did as a whole. They are interviewing YOU and your talents, not your collaborators.

So please, if you aren’t ready to answer questions in-depth about binary trees, data structures, algorithms, and concurrency – please don’t try and tell me you are a “full stack engineer.”

Tips for Transitioning Veterans Fri, 2 Jun 2017 10:59:34 -0800 Conquent
1) Your resume needs to be in corporate-speak, not military jargon. 90% of the resumes I see from veterans list a bunch of military acronyms and terms that have absolutely no meaning to me. You need to work on getting your resume ready for the civilian world. And that means you need to talk to people that have experience in both worlds and can help you translate your experiences appropriately. Most state unemployment support offices have a liaison or specialist of some kind that can help you with this for free. You can also use LinkedIn and other business communities to find civilian recruiters that have military experience in their backgrounds and can help you. Most of them are happy to donate their time to a fellow veteran.

2) Attitudinal Changes. I'm not trying to tell you that your attitude is bad or wrong, but it is different and to join the civilian world, you need to make an adjustment in your thinking in how you interact with other people. When you are interviewing, you have to remember that although you come from a very structured environment where life or death decisions depend upon following orders, a strict changing of command and established protocols, in the civilian world employers are generally looking for people that think for themselves and understand how to prioritize depending on a much different set of circumstances, and that very very few decisions you are going to make will result in a life or death situation outside of specific industries (like health care).

3) Leadership in the corporate world is very different than leadership in the military. People that are leaders in the civilian world don't expect instant obedience to every decision, and in fact they look for employees that can challenge those decisions and help deliver a better product or service through questioning and respectful disagreement. That isn't to say that you should question everything directly, but it does mean that if you disagree with a leader or a process, you should explore how you might make it better or what a different approach is and then speak up. There are many individuals in management positions that may not be the best leaders, and there are ways for you to work within the organization (such as HR or mentoring outside your direct reporting structure) to address this when it becomes frustrating. When you are interviewing, you need to think of examples of experiences you had that you may not have agreed with or disliked; why you didn't agree with them, and how you might have made changes to the process if you had the chance.

4) Learn to negotiate effectively. You need to know how to compromise and when to give and take (negotiation). Performance expectations are merit-based on an individual level in the corporate world, and the bell-curve is alive and well. "Huh?" you may be thinking to yourself. In the corporate world (a bit less in industries such as health care or any collective bargaining industry), you are judged on your performance in competition with your peers. It isn't a cut-throat competition, but you need remember that although you are part of a group for the outcome of your efforts, you are being judged individually against your coworkers. And when employers are considering you for a job, part of the evaluation process is making sure you are aware of your own worth and can articulate it well to them *against other candidates*.

5) Understanding the value of networking outside the military. There is no doubt whatsoever that the military is one of the strongest professional networks on the planet, but when you are leaving the service, you need to think outside that network and find those people that will have a broader range of contacts. That isn't to say that you should ignore your valuable contacts, but the people you need to be contacting are those with ties to industry and civilian employers. Think of those people that your network knows outside of their military career. For example, maybe the cashier at the PX is married to the manager at the local Costco. Or your Commander's brother coaches a junior league soccer team in Duluth, where your wife wants to move to. That soccer coach is going to know local service providers like realtors and insurance agents, and they in turn are going to have clients that may be able to help you find connections for opportunities in the civilian world. Conversely, you have something in common with a lot of civilian manager right now in a shared military experience, and this is a way for you to form an instant rapport with them. It's the equivalent of belonging to a sorority or fraternity or an alumna of a high school or college. It's an instant bond that generally will make the other person feel good about being able to help another vet.

6) Work hard, play hard, know when to stay and when to go. The military is both a 24x7 job and also very structured in terms of shifts. You are on guard duty from 6 AM to 3 PM, then your time is your own; you are monitoring subs on the second shift, and your attention is 100% focused, then you are off (unless of course you are in a war zone, when you are duty every minute). You *are* the military in terms of conduct at all times. Being in the service isn't a job, it's a lifestyle commitment for as long as your serve. When you go into corporate America, you start a job or a career, and then when you leave your job, you change your role like you change your hat. Your life becomes your own. But here's a fact to understand: very few jobs are not somehow entwined with your everyday life. You may work from 8-5, but you may need to be prepared to stay an hour extra to answer an email and finish a presentation, or give up your evening to attend an industry event. But, by the same token, you can take an extended lunch to go sign closing papers on your new house, or schedule a doctor's appointment into your day. Your life becomes an ebb and flow of intertwined roles. But the one thing that is true regardless: what you do off the clock needs to be done with integrity and a degree of professionalism, and what you do on the clock needs to carry the same passion and conviction that you take with you to your son's baseball game or the barbecue with your folks on Saturday.

It's a competitive job market, and there are tons of stories out there about how difficult it is for veterans to find jobs. There are a few factors such as lack of equivalent positions, a disconnect between industry and military career professionals, but I also believe a large part of it is culture shock when leaving the military. Believe it or not, most employers sincerely *want* to hire vets. Some because it's the right thing to do; some because it is mandated by law that employers consider vets and even get tax breaks of some sort for it; others because they have found that military training makes for a great employee. But to hire you, they have to get you in the door and through the vetting process.
Timing: When To Apply For A New Job Mon, 9 Oct 2017 13:03:05 -0800 Conquent
For those students that are trying to line up full time jobs after graduation, it is absolutely vital to understand how corporate recruiting works. Large companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks, IBM, Apple, Facebook, etc. have what are known as Campus Recruiting programs. They have entire teams dedicated to attending job fairs at schools, or at the very least working with school career centers to hire candidates for ongoing entry-level positions. But smaller companies often don't have campus recruiting programs; they hire entry level candidates when they have the opportunity (either a backfill, meaning someone has left the company or because they have enough staff to help mentor a new graduate). Why is it important to understand the difference in large and small company hiring practices?

*Campus recruiters are hiring for a future need, with a long timeline. They know there will be open positions available when the student graduates and is ready. Smaller companies are hiring *tactically* meaning they are looking for someone to start more immediately (usually within 8 weeks or less.)

What this means is that students that are not graduating until, say, January or June should not be disappointed if they apply to a job in August or February (respectively) and get a rejection from smaller companies.

How can you figure out if a company is hiring tactically? There are a couple of steps you can take. Ask your career center if a company of interest has a relationship with your school. Look on LinkedIn to see if the company has anyone listed as a "Campus Recruiter" for their title. Call/email the company and ask for the HR/Recruiting department.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the more seasoned career professional that knows their job will be ending on a specific date. It is a reality of business that often companies will have layoffs and slow hiring in their 4th quarter (whether it aligns with the calendar year or not). If you are facing a layoff during Q4, you need to know that most companies start slowing their hiring in November and December, so you want to get your job search jump started sooner rather than later.

In 2009 locally, Microsoft did a massive layoff (several thousand people.) Most employees got a really generous severance package. One of the biggest mistake a lot of those affected employees did was wait months to start their job search (the recession was in full swing). In 2014, they also did a clean up of their HR/Recruiting department. Smart employees started their searches within a few weeks. Especially in the case of the HR layoffs, many employees waited until their severance packages were running out before starting their search, but guess what? With such a glut on the market, many companies filled their positions immediately, and a lot of them opened headcount (positions) earlier than projected to take advantage of the high quality candidates on the market. The result: the early birds caught the worms, and those that waited often found themselves unemployed for a LOT longer than they anticipated.

The same rationale applies to contractors. If you know your contract is ending on a specific date, or even within a general time frame, and you *need* to keep employed, don't wait until AFTER you finish your contract to start looking. The average recruiting lifecycle in a healthy economy is roughly 6-8 weeks (for most "generalist" positions) from the time a position is opened until someone is hired. One of the biggest mistakes contractors make is not starting their search early enough; at the latest, start your seach two weeks before you know your contract is due to complete, especially for full-time positions.

Like most thing in life, timing is everything. Finding a new job is no different. ]]>
Phone Screens - Good And Bad Examples Tue, 5 Dec 2017 11:44:04 -0800 Conquent
The first phone screen was on specific technical concepts. There were both "put this in your own words and explain it to me" as well as "what is your opinion of XYZ as a way of accomplishing ABC goal?".
I was appalled at the response from the hiring manager.

"In any event, many of the factual questions I asked were followed by long pauses while she said she was thinking, and then all of sudden she had a very articulate answer. I believe she was googling as she went, and in some cases, it sounded like she was reading from something she found on the web verbatim.

She didn’t do very well on the questions that were more opinion / approach based. Pass."

The second candidate was a longshot for a Software Engineering position.

"Really nice guy, but he lacks in all technical areas. Even his education was more of a technical school where he learned several languages but not the CS fundamentals (he rated himself on a scale of 1 to 10 as 3 in terms of algorithms and data structures). I told him as much and even gave some career advice. I also told him if he takes some additional courses and hones his tech skills, I’ll be happy to talk to him again."

The first candidate looked great on "paper" (resume). The second candidate was a known longshot, but his resume showed self-improvement, tenacity, forethought, and he took on interesting challenges. (This phone screen also illustrates my point in this previous <a href=" ">blog on bootcamp programs </a>).

These two conversations illustrate *why* organizations have an extra layer of screening these days with functional phone calls (across the board, not just technology jobs). Part of the goal of <a href="">phone screens </a> is to determine if a candidate will even survive the interview process. I am APPALLED at the first candidate's behavior. I am also assuming that her resume is heavily "padded". She needs to go back to the drawing board and rethink her career choices if she cannot even answer basic questions in her chosen field.

A phone screen is still considered a formal interview, and job seekers should treat it as such. If you are speaking with a recruiter/HR it is totally appropriate to <a href="">ask </a> what to expect in a functional phone screen and how to prepare, just as it is for an onsite interview.

Your "Unofficial" References Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:29:42 -0800 Conquent
From a recruiting perspective, professional references given by the candidate mean almost nothing to me. Of course they are going to provide the names of people that will give them glowing reviews. In the last decade or so, the term that has become more prevalent among hiring managers and recruiters is "backchannel references". What does this mean? Basically, someone is going to reach out to other people they know at the company that may know your work and ask for some feedback "off the record" (usually the hiring manager makes the outreach). LinkedIn is used for this quite often; look up your manager that you gave as a reference, then see if there is a peer or a stakeholder you most likely worked with that may have an opinion on your work. Is it legal? Yup. So you think it's unfair? Well, if you were being asked out on a date by someone you barely knew, wouldn't you ask your friends about him/her and take their opinion under advisement? You might even find their ex on Facebook or LinkedIn and ask for an opinion (trust me, I should have done that with my own last relationship...and I already knew the ex and would have saved myself a WORLD of heartache). Don't you look on Glassdoor and reach out to other professional contacts that do/have worked at the company to find out more about the company and even the team? It's no different; it just feels more intrusive because it is a business, and not personal.

I know for a fact that in the course of my own career I have lost at least one offer because of a backchannel reference. It was very early in my career, and I learned a very valuable lesson: guard your reputation like nothing else in your professional life. That particular manager is still in the recruiting arena in Seattle and we have crossed paths on more than one occasion. I have been in the position of recommending whether to pursue her or not on more than one occasion, and when I am asked, I will share my experience with my own manager.

One thing you can do is ask for professional endorsements on LinkedIn *while you are working with them*. Ask them to write SPECIFICS (vs. generic "John is great! I really enjoy working with him!") about working with you, including how you made their life easier, and how being awesome at your job benefited the organization, your best skills. If you *know* there is someone that could give you a bad reference, tell the recruiter when s/he asks for your "official" list and explain the context or situation.

As the world becomes more connected, and individuals are less concerned with personal privacy, you will see much more blurring of the lines in the business world. It's the price society pays for uber-community.

Some additional reading:
<a></a> ]]>
Formatting Your Resume For The Hiring Manager - Your Target Audience Sun, 25 Feb 2018 11:05:41 -0800 Conquent
But more importantly than making my job a headache, these formats don't appeal to hiring managers. And that, my readers, is your target audience for your resume. If a hiring manager doesn't like the format on your resume, s/he isn't even going to look at it.

Here is an example. I am currently hiring for several Data Scientists. The *role* of a DS is to create user dashboards and graphic elements using data visualization software like Tableau to help business leaders see trends and analyses of hard business data. But guess what? I have looked at over 500 resumes in the last few weeks, and have sent the manager 3 of them that have used charts to try and show expertise. The result? He asked me not to send any more; he doesn't want to try and wade through things that don't give him hard data...which is where data scientists START their jobs.

The caveat to this observation, of course, is if you are in a creative field. Artist, UX designer, graphic designer, etc. Then by all means, go to town. A photo should also NEVER EVER be on your resume unless you are in the entertainment industry.

"New" resume formats are created by companies that don't understand why the basic text resume has been around for so long. There are several reasons.
1) It is easy to read. English speakers read from the upper left hand corner, scanning left to right, top to bottom. Our comprehension is based on a smooth flow of reading. The old maxim that you have 6-10 minutes to grab a person's attention is true. I tend to spend a bit more than average on resumes...closer to 15 seconds. But if I cannot actually *read* your resume because it is segmented in ways that do not make sense, or has graphics littered all over it, or you try and "quantify" your skills with a chart or graph...I'm not even going to bother.

2) Hiring Managers want to see what you did, when you did it, and how it positively affected your employer. Your experience needs to be CONTEXTUAL (meaning the functional format is of no use to a hiring manager.) You need to tie your experience to the work you are doing (or want to do.)

3) Compliance reasons: this is the big one that most people advocating for "new" resume formats don't understand: hiring organizations are bound by several different governmental requirements that relate to hiring. This means that they must evaluate candidates based on their detailed, quantifiable skills as stated in the job description. If recruiters and hiring managers cannot easily see what you have done, we aren't even going to consider you. Don't even think about a video resume; recruiters and hiring managers won't look at them because of the potential for discrimination.

If you want to "jazz up" your resume, use bold, underline, italics, , spacing/indentations, and bullet points (heck, you can try experimenting with different shapes for a bullet point). Run it by friends, neighbors, and other people that are hiring managers (NOT your best friend, or your professor, or your parents...find an objective 3rd party that makes hiring decisions regularly). Get opinions from people that look at resumes and actually have ideas of what they do/don't like and want to see.

Preparing Yourself To Be A Stay At Home Mom or Dad (Intending To Return To Work Someday) Fri, 9 Mar 2018 16:26:44 -0800 Conquent
Bringing a new baby or adopted child home is a 24x7 commitment. That being said, there are periods of time, after your little one has an established sleep pattern and once you and your partner establish a routine, where you can turn youself to other things. And while I know that laundry, cleaning, errands, and cooking are generally part and parcel of your new role, it is important that you carve time for yourself to keep up some of your professional skills/credentials. You don't have to commit to 40 hours a week to do so. Remember, "professional" is defined in terms of quality, not quantity. So if you devote a few hours a month to keeping up your professional credentials, your transition back into the workforce when you are ready should be much more lucrative.

Here are some ways you can keep your professional persona alive and relevant for the longer haul.

1) Education: take or teach classes. With the plethora of online college options, getting either college degree or a Master's is something you can do a class or two at a time. There are many online programs now geared for working adults that give you "credit" for your professional career, allowing you to "test out" of traditional pre-requisites. And, as a friend of mine that stayed home while raising her two sons and took classes, a little known fact that as long as your taking *at least one class* and receiving financial aid, even if you finish your degree, your financial aid will remain deferred.

The other side to the education track is teaching in your field. A continuing ed class or certificate program at a local community college; small groups of professionals as an independent consultant; speaking at conferences/seminars. Keeping up your professional network during this time is absolutely vital.

2) Writing: start (or continue) a blog; write a book; branch out into freelance journalism and write articles. Don't discount the value of participating in LinkedIn discussions. Comment on postings that relevant to your field. Answer questions on Quora. Basically create your professional persona as a Subject Matter Expert in your field. Save all your content into a portfolio, and create a website for yourself that you can use when you are ready to go back to work. If you are in a field that has online communities (ie Github for technology, or the AMA for marketing professionals; LinkedIn and Meetup both offer ways, and FB is chock full of communities for *everything*).
*I would also like to say that if you in any way create CONTENT-digital, written, visual - build your portfolio BEFORE YOU LEAVE YOUR JOB. Obviously I am not advocating taking intellectual property or proprietary information, but screen shots, presentations, press releases, marketing collateral etc. are all valuable pieces of your history that can help bridge past and the future.

3) Volunteer *in your field* a few hours a month or quarter. The key to volunteering is that it must be generally in your field.

4) Attend evening networking events such as professionally-focused Meetups. If there isn't anything, *start* a channel of interest.

5) Consult. Remember, it isn't about quantity, it is about demonstrable results. One client a quarter is just as valid as 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year.

Finally, make the effort to keep up with your professional contacts and continue to build new ones. When you ARE ready to return to the workforce, it will be via people who know you, know your work, and feel comfortable recommending you to THEIR networks. Luckily we live in an era with LinkedIn, email, instant messaging, video chat, Facebook and other social media channels where we can keep our networks up electronically. Although the occasional lunch downtown after Jr. starts school might be a nice break. ]]>
Bad Attitude Can Cost You Opportunities Fri, 23 Mar 2018 15:31:44 -0800 Conquent
Before that happens, I always schedule a recruiting call to go over the process with the candidate, answer any questions they have, then ask them a few HR-specific questions such as their general salary expectations, if they need relocation whether they are a renter or homeowner (it determines the type of package we provide), and if they are on a work visa.

Thing were going fine until I got to the visa question. I asked the candidate, "Will you require any sort of sponsorship to work in the US?" This is a standard question in the Seattle tech industry, but what followed was a bit bizarre.

"I will need your company to file for an H1-B application for me as soon as I start". (It is the first week of March; applications need to be filed by April 1st for the year.)

I replied, "What sort of visa are you currently on and what is the expiration date?"

"I need to know you will file an H1-B application for me as soon as I start."

Again, I told the candidate "I cannot make you any sort of promises or guarantees until I know exactly what sort of visa you are currently on, and when it expires."

He came back and admitted to me that he was on an OPT (student training visa) with over a year and half left on it.

So I had a conversation with the manager and explained to him that I had some major concerns regarding the candidate, not from a skills perspective, but based on the fact that he was cagey and demanding. It turns out, the manager had a similar experience but it didn't trip any red flags until we talked. The candidate had told the hiring manager that he had an offer on the table, so we recommended that he go ahead and accept their offer since we would not be able to meet his need for sponsorship.

After I effectively closed the door, he came back and told me he could obtain sponsorship under his spouse's employer, which makes the entire situation even worse.

It is important for candidates to understand that your initial conversation with a potential employer sets the tone for your future relationship. If you act demanding, shifty or evasive, you are giving a potential employer initial impressions that can damage your chances with them permanently. ]]>
This Simple Attribute Could Cost You Your Dream Job Wed, 13 Jun 2018 16:06:08 -0800 Conquent
And I have found far too many examples of candidates, especially entry/early career stage, who don't actually pay attention to what I am sending them. This is simply a lack of attention to detail.

It is frustrating when I send an email requesting a phone call with them and they don't give me the information I need. (Please note this isn't an auto-generated mail, it is coming from my email address and I fill in the info as needed in the subject line and name)

Here is my standard request for incoming candidates (those that have applied directly to our roles). The subject line is the company name - position title:

Hello *first name*,

I am a recruiter, and you recently expressed an interest in one of my openings. I would like to set up 20-30 minutes with you to go over your background, the process, any questions you may have, etc. Please reply with the following if you are still interested:

• The best phone number to reach you
• 2-3 times you would be available for a 30 minute call between 9-2:30 Pacific Time

90% of the time, if I get a quick response, candidates *don't include a phone number.*

Here's the thing: I don't automatically ASSUME that the number on your resume is the best way to get hold of you.

Often candidates will reply asking "what job is this for?"
Candidates, you should be keeping track of what jobs you have applied for. If you have applied for multiple jobs at a company, *tell the recruiter* you have done so. "I have applied to three different software engineering positions with your company; can you tell me which team this is for?" You look disorganized, unprofessional, and desperate (looking for ANY job) when you don't even know what job you are talking about. *Hint: most recruiters will have the teams/groups they recruit for in their LinkedIn profiles if not the actual JOBS they are recruiting for. I have both on mine.

Many times candidates don't check their email, *including their junk folders*. If I try twice with no response, I will send a politely worded sytem-generated decline and the reason in the system is "Candidate Did Not Reply".

If you use multiple email addresses, CHECK ALL OF THEM WHEN YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A JOB. I have had more than one candidate create their account on our website with one email address, but they don't used it anymore. Guess what? *That is the address we use, not the one on your resume, including offer letters. Login and update your email address if it has changed.

And the one that kills me: candidates that don't apply with a resume. If you apply via a LinkedIn file, that is ok, *as long as you have a complete profile* that gives me the same level of detail as a resume, not just "company, title, dates" with no content. Again, you will get an auto-decline email.

It is a super competitive market out there. I have done everything I can to give candidates a chance to move forward with a job they have expressed an interest in; it is up to them to do their part. ]]>
The Job Bait and Switch Tactic Doesn't Work Tue, 19 Jun 2018 10:03:52 -0800 Conquent
The first candidate was a very smooth talker. We had concerns about bringing him in, but he was a domain expert and had worked at a direct competitor so was very familiar with the space. His attitude once he got onsite was..."smarmy" is the best descriptor. He schmoozed up to anyone with a title, and talked down to the IC's (Individual Contributors) he would be potentially managing. I closed him out after his interviews, and he was convinced he had done stellar. He was shocked when we declined him.

The second candidate was actually someone we wanted to hire. We made him an offer, but even after I, the hiring manager and the group Director had conversations with him (all of us telling him the same thing, that the offer on the table was our best and final offer) he *still* tried to get more money and a bigger title.

Finally, a candidate that was a submittal from a third party (agency) to an Engineering Manager position went through two phone calls and a full round of interviews, and then when an offer was presented he tried to indicate that he wasn't interested in the role he had interviewed for, he wanted something with "more scope, more responsibility." When I explained to him that this wasn't an option, his was response was very telling: "If there's nothing HR can possibly do to innovate and adapt for this particular case, it's then my turn to... wait for a better role fit later down the road if at all possible." The response from the SVP? "Please flag the profile, because we don’t want candidates who are negotiating for higher positions deliberately after interviewing to be a part of our company."

It is perfectly fine to look at external opportunities with an eye towards a promotion, especially if you aren't making any headway with your current employer. But trying to apply for a job, especially any sort of people management position and then trying to turn it into something much greater at the interview/offer stage leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the recruiter and hiring team.

Sometimes it *is* possible to get a "Sr." uplevel. Perhaps you have been an Operations Manager for eight years; it is entirely possible and plausible that you might be upleveled to a Senior Operations Manager. The process needs to start with a frank conversation with the recruiter/hiring manager at the BEGINNING of the process, not well down the road to interviews and offer negotiations. If you try that tactic, you are going to earn yourself a reputation for dishonesty and underhandedness.

A Hiring Manager Gives You Tips on Interview Prep Fri, 27 Jul 2018 09:51:27 -0800 Conquent
As an interviewer and hiring manager, here are 3 things a candidate can do to have a good interview experience:

1. Familiarize youself with the company and what they do. Go to the company website, create an account or make a purchase. Read the latest news about the company – Set up a Google news alert for the company for a few days before the interview
2. Do not use the same impact story across all folks in the loop. Have 2 to 3 impact examples that you can share with the folks in the loop
3. Have questions ready for the interviewers – ask about business, culture, career path, etc. Any information that you need to make a decision to join this company or not. You are also interviewing the company- make sure the fit is mutual

One Way To Fail An Interview - Making Assumptions Tue, 30 Oct 2018 13:59:38 -0800 Conquent
When I meet with a candidate first thing before they start their loop, the two pieces of advice I give them are to listen to any hints or feedback their interviewer is giving throughout the conversation, and to talk through their thought process. Often if a candidate is going down the "wrong path", the interviewer will ask them a question that is geared towards helping them get back on the right path, or a clue as to what the interviewer is actually looking for. "Making assumptions" is diving into a question either without waiting for the interviewer to finish setting up the question/scenario or just jumping into the question without thinking through what all the possible answers could be. It is often driven by excitement, or thinking that you know exactly what the question is about, and could be apprehension about interviewing in general. The impressions that can be drawn from consistently not listening are lack of interest, arrogance, poor collaborative skills, lack of communication abilities. In some large companies, those qualities may be less of an issue than in a smaller organization. But given that almost every candidate I speak to is looking for a highly collaborative environment where they can be mentored, handling an interview by not listening and taking hints/feedback gives the opposite impression.

I know it is frustrating when a lot of companies are unable or unwilling to give you specific feedback about your interview performance; this is why it is often a great opportunity to work with an agency - recruiters will often give their feedback to the agency to help coach candidates. Most candidates want to know "why" companies are so hesitant about giving direct feedback, and the truth is that behavior, communication skills, and personality are all highly subjective. On top of that, there is a chance that a candidate will decide to take legal action against a company if they are given feedback they are not happy with. Recruiting is part of Human Resources, and the single most important goal of HR is to protect the company legally as it relates to human beings.

I recommend finding some mock interview scenarios nearby. If you are in school still, check with your career center. If you are working, talk to friends/colleagues and set mock interviews up; you can do it a library, in a coffee shop, even in someone's home. Most recruiters or people managers are happy to give an hour of their time to help someone they know improve their communication skills. Set up scenarios and then take video that you can refer to later (there is absolutely no better way to find out what you are like in an interview than seeing it for yourself). Interviewing, like anything else, is a skill. Practice can help you hone your style and become more comfortable with the process.
The Long-Term Ramifications of Ghosting An Employer Wed, 14 Nov 2018 11:40:02 -0800 Conquent
I reached out to the ~25 candidates that had submitted a paper copy of their resume. I introduced myself, told them I was following up from their interest at the job fair, and asked them for a digital copy of their resume and for 3-4 times they would be available for a 60 minute functional screen with one of our engineers. I told them what to generally expect in the call, how to prepare, and that based on their availability they should look for a confirmation from our scheduling team.

We have already been through about 30% of the applicants (in terms of initial calls.) We increased the number of screeners and asked for dedicated times from them for phone screens. All of this to provide prompt response and a good candidate experience.

Imagine my surprise when our Coordinator sent me an email the day before a candidate was due to have a phone call, telling me she had reached out to this candidate twice to confirm, and had not received any response. I texted the candidate and asked if he was still available or needed to reschedule. I got no response either. We told the screener not to bother trying a second time if the candidate did not answer.

The candidate *did* answer the phone...but told the interviewer that he was "too busy with homework to take the call." He didn't ask to reschedule. Keep in mind, the time was scheduled based on the candidate's availability. He had three opportunities to request a reschedule, including one via text.

I have declined this candidate via email (politely), and noted this entire proceeding in our candidate database. The bottom line is that this candidate will probably never be considered for a job at our company again.

This sort of unprofessionalism is what can make or break an initial "first impression", and it can have LONG term implications. If you are a student and too busy to set up preliminary conversations, then don't submit your resume until you ARE ready. Being ghosted is no fun for anyone, but in this case, it cost someone a valuable career opportunity. ]]>
Embracing Professional Change Mon, 10 Dec 2018 11:04:59 -0800 Conquent
As professionals get older and have worked for the same employer for many years, often they become entrenched in the identity of working for XYZ. When, for some reason, their jobs end, they desperately cling to the belief that they need to find another position inside the same employer. While this seems like a logical thought, the truth is often that although they may be qualified, and have a good review history, if they were eliminated from one job, the chances are that they will not find another one inside the same organization.

I've seen this happen at several local employers in the area in the last decade: Microsoft, University of Washington, HPE, Amazon, and Boeing. The truth is, if you were singled out for a RIF, or left your job for some other reason (ie sabbatical, FMLA), you already have a mark against you. Often, when decisions are made to eliminate positions, factors that are considered can include seniority (which skirts the ageism line), cost to the company (ie lots of time off for medical/personal issues) or less than stellar annual reviews ("meets expectations" rather than "exceeds expectations"). Rather than try desperately to try and get another role in the same organization, this is a time to look at new opportunities.

Take stock of your skill set. Perhaps it is time for a change, or to pursue some classes or a certification that will lead you into a new area. Reinvigorate your career. This is the time when working with a career coach/counselor (the difference is whether or not the person has a related degree like Social Work, Psychology, Organizational Management, etc. Coaches usually don't.) You can also go to your local state unemployment office for free services such as testing or skills evaluations. If nothing else, get your resume updated and reviewed by people that know current trends (this would be hiring managers in your field, recruiters/HR folks, or people at your local unemployment office…I caution against “certified resume writers” unless they have either a recruiting or HR background, as they probably aren’t familiar with legalities associated with current hiring practices or how Applicant Tracking Systems work.)

If you are content with your current job/career, it is time to start networking. Most people that have been with the same organization for years make the mistake of not building out their professional network, especially on LinkedIn.
• Start with people you have worked with, especially former managers/supervisors and peers.
• Then look for recruiters that may specialize in your skill set, both agency and corporate professionals.
• Next, concentrate on other professionals in your discipline, possibly that you have met at a conference or other professional event.
• Finally, take a look at your social circle. Some great general contacts to cultivate are auto mechanics, real estate agents, hair stylists, B2B sales professionals, waiters/bartenders, taxi or ride-sharing drivers. These are professions that tend to meet a lot of people and have clients in a variety of industries.

True story: one of my friends started driving for Uber when life took a downturn and ended up being part of several new ventures professionally based on conversations with riders.

If all else fails, it may be time to put out a shingle and start your own consulting business.
• Decide on a name
• Get a business license
• Create an LLC (there are online services that can help walk you through this)
• Get a website up and running
• Open a business bank account
• Identify the one or two services you offer, and start getting the word out to your network.
Starting a business isn't that expensive, but one of the best things you can do is get yourself a good accountant or bookkeeper and understand how taxes work as a contractor.
• There is an organization called SCORE ( which can be a good resource. It is comprised of senior and retired professionals that volunteer their time to help small businesses in a mentoring capacity.
• The SBA (Small Business Association is another resource for information.

The truth is, change helps to keep us from stagnating, and is not a bad thing. It can be scary but is a reality of life today.
How NOT To Use LinkedIn Thu, 3 Jan 2019 15:23:38 -0800 Conquent
Please Do Nots:

-Use an empty profile that has your name, location, company name, job title, and nothing else. It's frustrating and tells us all almost exactly NOTHING. If you are going to use LinkedIn, at least entice us with *some* details. If you have taken the time to create a LinkedIn profile, at some point in your career you thought it was worth doing. Either that or you are a techno-lemming.

-Put an inappropriate picture up. LinkedIn is NOT Facebook. It is a *professional* networking site. I'm not saying you need to use a $500 executive head shot, but I do suggest you be in clothing that covers your more private parts, and doesn't include a bucket of beer and you trying to Mambo. Also, it should be a picture of YOU. Not your wife, hottie boytoy, kids, or pets. If you don't have a picture of yourself, use a personalized branded logo or icon. Studies prove that imagery increases your traffic.

-Try and be clever in your profile. Unless you are a stand-up comic, it brands you as juvenile. This includes using "fake" profiles such as "Super Man" from "Planet Krypton" or "Captain Jack Sparrow", profession "Pirate".

-Build your network with the generic "I'd like to add you to my network." Well, obviously. But why should I care? Who are you? What do you want from me? I have gotten to the point that if someone doesn't at least write me one personalized sentence then I ignore requests.

-SPAM groups by doing nothing but put up promotional crap. I've gotten people kicked out of groups before because all they do is put up sales ads. Believe me, I've been asked to be a moderator on several groups because I'm vigilant and try to keep the integrity of those groups; if it becomes too much, I leave them. The single biggest complaint from group members is TOO MUCH SPAM.

-Post questions that you could have answered with just one Google search. Guess brands you as someone that doesn't know what you are doing and as unable to figure the simplest thing out, which presages poor professional habits. (This goes for online discussion communities as well.)

-Be argumentative in discussions. If you chime in with a well-thought response to an ongoing discussion, and other people disagree, withdraw from the conversation. Just because you hold a certain viewpoint doesn't make it automatically valid. Don't engage in an online debate; it isn't worth it.

-Forget that LinkedIn is a multi-cultural and international community. I was once on an HR discussion thread where an HR professional from India was asking a question about the best astrological forecast to extend an offer to a candidate. There were two people from North America that got themselves a lot of heat for telling the poster how "stupid" her question was. Moral of the story: be culturally sensitive; if you cannot say something nice or add value to the conversation, move along and leave it alone.

-Update your profile multiple times in a day. Again, this isn't Facebook or Twitter. Keep that utility worthwhile for yourself, and don't send 15 updates a day to everyone in your network, or you might find yourself losing your professional connections.

In short, keep your LinkedIn profile (and your brand)what it is meant to be...professional ]]>
Interviewing/Internships and Business Travel Wed, 27 Feb 2019 16:04:33 -0800 Conquent
Internship realities:
*Unpaid internships are illegal except under a very few circumstances (Non profit, working for the government, ie a law clerk for a congressional member). If you aren't getting paid, it probably isn't following established legal criteria.
The best thing to do is check with your Career Center.

-Only a VERY FEW, very large global companies will pay for your lodgings during an internship. Assume you will be responsible for covering your own rent/accommodations for the duration of your stay.

There are always a lot of questions from candidates about what they should think about in terms of the cost for interviewing. The single best thing you should remember, if nothing else: SAVE ALL YOUR ORIGINAL RECEIPTS. You will need these to get reimbursed, NOT your credit card statements. Without your receipts, you will not get reimbursed.

Here are some basics:

-Most companies *should* pay your airfare and hotel (for at least one night) upfront when you are invited to interview from out of state; make sure you understand how many nights at a hotel a company will cover. Generally they will use a corporate account or travel agent, so you shouldn't even have to worry about it. *Always ask*!!
*This is usually only relevant for actual employers, NOT employment agencies, who will expect you to pay out of pocket. Sometimes they will offer to reimburse you part/all of the expenses if you end up getting the job. ASK THEM and GET IT IN WRITING if that is the case.

If you would like to stay an extra few days at your own expense, most companies don't care when you arrive/leave for flights.
The caveat: if you are are looking to move to a city, and your resume/profile has a *local* address, then expect to pay for your own travel expenses.
TIP: if you are interviewing with more than one company in an area, you can try and negotiate additional hotel nights with one employer if another is paying your airfare.

-If you can drive to an interview, have a car and prefer to do so, you should be reimbursed for your total mileage; fill up your tank at the beginning of your trip and save the receipt/s. Keep in mind that you will be paid for the trip to and from your interview, on those dates, and not for side trips to sight see. If you live 250 miles from the interview site, they will generally expect 500-550 miles round trip on your expense report, not 800-1200 over the course of 4 days.
The IRS annually outlines mileage guidelines:

You can also ask if a train is an option, but you may need to be reimbursed for your ticket.

-Most employers will provide you with lunch or dinner; if not, save all your receipts during your trip. You will generally be given an expense reporting template to file.

-It's important to understand that your expense report is considered part of the corporate accounts payable cycle, and as such will most likely be paid to you, in a physical check via USPS, at the end of the cycle which could be anywhere from 2-6 weeks. Companies cannot/will not send you cash, paypal, or direct deposit in most instances. (This is also how business travel works for employees as well.)

Hope this helps clear up some of the mysteries of business travel.
The Informational Interview Wed, 24 Apr 2019 12:28:00 -0800 Conquent
They can be a valuable networking tool, and even help someone determine if a career path they are considering is right for them. But if you are going to pursue this course of action it is important to know what an informational interview is, and more importantly what it is *not*.

Believe it or not, "Informational Interview" is a very descriptive name for the process. This is where someone that is exploring career opportunities has a short (15-30 minute) conversation with someone in either the role they are contemplating or someone that hires those professionals. In either case the goal of the meeting or phone call is to get *information* about what the job entails, and what characteristics hiring managers look for when they are looking for people. Sometimes informational sessions come in the form of structured panels, sometimes they are 1:1 meetings.

A while ago I was on a recruiting panel for Seattle Pacific University. They had a new Master's program and several recruiters representing different facets of the industry were invited to speak to the students on working with different recruiters when they came out of school. I represented the corporate recruiting side, although I've done agency as well. Part of the questions entailed how we got into recruiting. One student asked how I like corporate HR, and my answer actually clarified some ideas for her. I pointed out that although recruiting as a career is part of the human resources process, it is different from most other functions in that it deals heavily with people and communication. Most of the other facets of Human Resources, such as HR Generalist, only deal with people via employee relations, which is solving issues or and occasionally dealing with transitions like promotions or terminations (layoffs, exit interviews, etc). The role of HR in any company is to safeguard the organization via policies and procedures that keep the human capital in line with legal and corporate mandates. Compensation, payroll, benefits all deal with facts and figures, not people. Training obviously deals with people, but less on a 1:1 than on a 1:many basis. She had not realized the differences and, like many young adults graduating with an HR concentration hadn't had the opportunity to explore the different disciplines within the Human Resources industry.

Many companies have a process whereby an internal candidate starts a job search with an informational interview. S/he will contact a potential hiring manager to find out more about the group and what the manager is looking for in a candidate. It also might include asking about management style, team dynamics, and expectations. It is vital to note that the employee is *not* trying to sell themselves. They are gathering information to see if they are interested in formally applying for the position. The manager may ask questions to see if it might be a good match based on the employee's side as well. There may or may not have been a resume forwarded.

For external candidates, the number one thing to remember is that it is considered bad etiquette to try and turn an informational interview into a job seeking session. When someone gives you their time, it's imperative to be respectful of it and not misuse or misrepresent yourself or your intentions. Since part of the object of an informational is to network, keep in mind that you can gain an unwelcome reputation in the business world by not "playing by the rules" as it were. Also something to keep in mind, many busy professionals may not have the time to leave their jobs and meet you somewhere, so keep in mind that a phone call, while not as effective for *your* needs, may be better for theirs and as such, accept it in the spirit for which it is offered, and keep on target and conversation salient. Don't go off on tangents and try to win over your contact. I'll be honest, the biggest problem I have when people contact me for an informational meeting is that even though we schedule thirty minutes, all too often it goes on...and on...and on. So usually I try and schedule a phone call.

If you are exploring a specific job or industry from a career planning perspective, it is very helpful to have questions ready to ask. You will want to ask about things like "a day in the life", skills or training that are most valuable, other professions that you could expect to come in contact with, career path options, state of the industry (growth/competition, new innovations) for the next 5-10 years, if there are any industry associations to join or web portals to access for industry information. If you are still in school, perhaps what classes might be more valuable than others (have a list of a few choices). Ask if they know if there are internships available in their industry (some industries don't traditionally offer internships.) At the end of your conversation, thank them, and ask if it would be alright to send them a LinkedIn invitation. There is a bonus to having an informational interview with someone and making a good impression: you may have the beginnings of a mentoring relationship if you handle the meeting/call well.

Being a current industry job seeker is a bit different, because the temptation is so great to try and turn every contact into an immediate opportunity. But the point of the informational interview is to better hone your job hunt, to find out what is needed in the industry, and to expand your targeted industry network. You want to seek out professionals with experience hiring (including being on interview loops if they are not a manager) in your field, whether current or past. LinkedIn is going to be your most valuable tool, along with attending professional networking events. Make sure you know the title/s you are looking at (be open to different opportunities), but also be able to talk in skill sets. Make sure the skills you are honing in are functional skills by industry, not soft attributes. An example would be sales and business development knowledge and tools for a manufacturer (, cold-calling vs. warm) versus “strong communication skills”. Concentrate on actual experience and training needed. Present your questions succinctly. "John, I've got five years in bookkeeping and business accounting such as payable and receivables under my belt in a small company, and I'm wondering if you can suggest what else I should concentrate on to improve my skills, or if there is any particular industry you know of that might be hiring my skill set right now?"

Fight the urge to say, "so do you have any suggestions how I can get into healthcare right now?" That is not an appropriate use of the interviewer's time. I cannot tell you how many requests I get weekly from people saying, "so, I'm trying to get into XYZ industry right now; what should I do?" It is your responsibility to do the research needed to get into said industry, and if you don't know how to do so, find resources like your state Unemployment Office, school career counseling center, or even a career coach to help you do so. If you are using this particular informational interview as part of that research, you need to have identified several specific jobs or career paths that you are interested in, and have specific questions in mind to ask the interviewer. You need to be able to align your skills and history to what you are looking at, keeping in mind that you may need to get some more general experience before you can jump into a new industry.

As an example, several years ago, I was taken with the idea of being a production (tv, movie) location scout. I had been to Toronto, where a favorite TV show of mine was set and went on a Location Tour. I was really blown away by how the cinematography had transformed spaces from reality to how they looked on camera. It took a lot of imagination and understanding of the camera to be able to see potential. I found a local location scout and had coffee with him. He told me the ins and outs of the business, and in the end, I decided that the uncertainty of the paycheck wasn't something I could commit to at that time. But it sure was fascinating and I think it would definitely be a fun business at another point in my life.

If used appropriately, Informational Interviews can be a great resource for the job seeker both for learning and networking.

Interviews: Not Asking Questions Is Asking Not To Be Hired Tue, 28 May 2019 15:20:09 -0800 Conquent
So from a hiring perspective, what do your interviewers expect from you, other than answering their questions?

Simply put: excitement/interest in the job! You express this by asking questions. I have declined candidates that have done perfectly well functionally on interviews, but showed little to no interest in the job. If you don't ask questions of your interviewers, here are the three impressions you are probably giving:

A) You aren't really interested in the position.
B) You are arrogant/stuck up, "don't play well with others."
C) Boredom.

Hopefully, most people will ask general questions of their interviewers that are pertinent to the job. Make sure you ask your interviewers DIFFERENT questions, not the same ones.

-Why is this job open? If it is a backfill, why did the person leave the position?
-What is your role on the team?
-What is a typical day like in your group?
-Can you tell me your impression of the corporate culture? The team culture?
-Who are the stakeholders outside of the immediate team this role interacts with?
-How does this position contribute to the bottom line success of the company?
-What do you like best/least about the company?
-(For the hiring manager) What are the metrics/objectives I would be evaluated on in the first 3, 6, 12 months?

The more senior you become in your career, the more expectation there is that you will be interested in the company and industry as well as your immediate job/team. Formulating questions to ask is probably not only the easiest and most comprehensive way to prepare for an interview, but doing some homework about the company will also give you some insights into the business, culture, history, etc. It can also help someone that identifies as introverted feel more relaxed to have a list of questions ready to ask.

How do you start? Visit the organization's website.

If they are a producer of a product, look at their product pages and understand both their business, their customers, and their industry niche. If the company provides services, read up about those services and check their portfolio of customers. It is *always* pertinent to ask about specifics.

-How is your product doing?
-How much market share do you have?
-Who is your main competition, what makes you better? Why would a customer/client choose you over your competition?
-What makes you "special"?
-What is your business model?

Publicly held companies will have an investor section; check out their financial performance over the last 6-18 months. "Why was there a downswing last spring? I see there was a surge in your financials a year ago, what do you attribute that to?"

-Press releases. "I see your CFO left after only 13 months, did s/he give a reason why? Why did you close your facility last January in XYZ location?"

-Job Descriptions: you can learn a lot about a company not only by what positions are currently open, but also by how they are written. You can see what industry tools they use (and you can look on Wikipedia if you aren't familiar with something) and determine if they are up to date or behind the times. Often, job postings will have dates on when they were originally posted. If a common job has been open for more than a 2-3 months, it is a valid question to ask. "I see you have a marketing assistant position that has been open for over four months; I'm curious why it has been so hard to fill?"

External sources:

-Glassdoor should be a no-brainer in this day and age. Check out the employee reviews. Do make sure you read general as well as areas that are of more interest to your field specifically. A company that has a lot of high-turnover positions (customer service, warehouse, retail) will probably get more negative reviews. But if their professional jobs have similar feedback about working conditions, pay, benefits, leadership...that is a major red flag.

-LinkedIn is where you check out current and past employees. See how long people stay at the company - if most employees leave after less than two years, that is a red flag. If there is anyone in your first or second degree network, reach out and ask if they would be willing to have a chat with you about their time at the company. Schedule a phone call and ask their opinion and experiences.

-Consumer reports/customer comments reflect how a company is perceived. If they get a lot of complaints about how customers were treated, that shows a major disconnect or at the very least a lack of organization. Don't forget to check the BBB if they are a company that provides services.

-Run a Google search on the company and legal action. See if they have been sued or part of any major cases.

-Check out local news/media outlets like the local Business Journal, the city newspaper, industry publications/portals.

You may actually find, as you do some research on the company, that it changes your mind about whether or not this is the right company for you. You may become more excited, or reach the conclusion that this isn't the right place for you. Either way, it will give you more context about what role you may potentially play, where the organization is going, and whether or not you can envision yourself spending 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year working there.

LinkedIn Primer/Refresher Fri, 14 Jun 2019 09:53:58 -0800 Conquent
Your LinkedIn profile is a public snapshot of you as a professional. It is more than a bio, less than a resume. First impressions are absolutely vital. There is also a feature experienced professionals can turn on that disallows anyone from your current company to see that you have enabled the “looking for a job” function.
• Your photo should be a head shot only (if you choose to use one). Not a full body shot, not a picture with your cat, dog, SO, or friends. You don’t need to pay for a professional photo, but it should be a decent photo, without a distracting background. It can be color or B & W, it just needs to be relatively clear. *Bonus: if you are an avid photographer or have a great Instagram account, choose a photo that represents you as a person for your banner photo. It is a way to interject some personality, but make sure it isn’t something that is going to cross any lines that are legally off-topics like your ethnic/marital/religious status. Stick to inanimate objects, panoramas, and only use original photos, don’t plagiarize.
• You should use your *full* legal name (first/surname), if you have a nickname put it in parentheses. Jonathan (John) Doe, Elizabeth (Beth) Rogers. If recruiters are trying to search for you, they will use your whole name. If you have a common name, use your middle initial. “Joseph (Joe) K. Brown”. If you come from a culture that used matronymic/patronymic names, use the name that you have on your driver’s license/ID.
• The biggest question I get for LinkedIn profiles in the top section is title. What should I call myself? Simply, *use the title of the job you are aspiring for* IF you are qualified. Don’t use “currently seeking new opportunities”. If you are looking to be a Marketing Analyst, use that. If you are currently employed, make sure you use your industry standard title, not something that your company has dreamed up. “Chief Cat Wrangler” may be what you are known by in your current company, but “Executive Assistant” is going to be much more useful.
• Your “About Me” section is the equivalent of your professional/executive summary. This is where you summarize your skill set.
o It should not include your education (as there is a specific section for that), although “recent graduate with an MBA in Finance” is a good start.
o If your industry has certifications, you can mention them here (although there is also a certification/license are below, this is really the snapshot of you and they are relevant.) It should include any specific industry skills/tools you are familiar with and currently use. And “industry” does not mean Office, the internet, or basic computer skills everyone knows. Examples might be accounting software programs like SAP or advanced Excel, or Peachtree; or email marketing tools like Mailchimp; or industry equipment such as a crane or forklift.
o Make sure you are using quantifiable skills and experience here, not buzzwords or “fluffy” resume marketing jargon. “Strong communicator with excellent people skills” is useless. “Professional trainer with instructional design background and five years in call center classroom setting” is descriptive with enough detail to orient your reader.
o If you have any sort of an online portfolio, you can put it in this section (if you put it in the “contact” or “personal website” section recruiters may not find it.)
• If you are open to relocation, make sure to list the cities you are interested in.

Professional Experience/Employment History: The next section of your profile is arguably the most important to recruiters; this is your employment section. The biggest mistake most people make is not having robust enough entries.
• I’m going to start with actual employment: make sure you have an overview of what you have done. This should be a basic overview of your “roles and responsibilities”, any significant accomplishments or projects. You can use bullet points to help your reader. It does not need to be as detailed as your resume, but should have some level of information that is useful. When you are entering your employer(s), make sure to choose them from the drop-down menu if the option is available.
• IF you just graduated from school and don’t have any relevant experience, you can use your school as your employer and say “Full time student”, OR if you did anything extracirricular you can say “Independent Contractor” or “Freelance”. Highlight specific projects you worked on that reflect the role/s you are trying to achieve. ***INTERNSHIPS/CO-OP/WORK-STUDY EXPERIENCE SHOULD ALWAYS SUPERSEDE YOUR EDUCATION**. (If you have any actual work experience, DO NOT use “Full time student” in the employment section as that will push your most recent internship down to the second slot.)
• If you have any relevant hobbies that you have been paid for/given away, use “independent contractor” or “Freelance XYZ” and give examples about the scope of the project(s) you worked on.

Your Education section should be your most recent *matriculated* school OR an extended program like a bootcamp.
• Basically public/private HS, secondary education with a degree (AA, BA/BS, Master’s/PhD) or true vocational/instructional programs. This includes longer term certificate programs, but NOT singular courses like Coursera or Udemy; those can go under your “About Me” section unless you have taken a full certificate course load like a “nanodegree”.
• If you graduate from a bootcamp or other vocational program AND have a prior degree, you should keep your actual degree as well.

Skills section, endorsements
• For recruiters this is the goldmine. This is where LinkedIn puts the keywords recruiters use when they are looking for a particular skillset. We generally don’t care how many people click on this section to give you a “thumbs up”; we just care that you HAVE these skills listed. This where you want to go to town and throw in the kitchen sink.
• Endorsements: this is the freeform area where people write nice things about you. They should be people who *know your work*. Teachers, mentors, former managers/clients/peers. It is only useful if they write DETAILED feedback. “Joe is really nice and was always on time” is useless. “Joe was a huge asset during his internship. He managed a social media marketing campaign that increased our online traffic by over 15% in three months” is gold. You can ASK your direct connections for endorsements (but they do need to BE direct, first degree connections). You can ask them to endorse you, and be specific about what you are looking for. “Jessica, I was hoping you could write an endorsement about the social media campaign I worked on during my internship with Acme last year.”

Making Connections
• You should be connecting with people you know…the great thing about LinkedIn is that you can literally connect with anyone…your Significant Other, next door neighbor, dogsitter, bartender at your favorite club, manager of your favorite band…don’t be shy. You never know who may be of value to you. As long as you know someone personally, send them an invitation if they are on LinkedIn.
• SEND INVITES TO RECRUITERS at companies of interest-but make sure to tell them WHY you are sending them an invite (I archive any invite that does not have a note). Explain that have just graduated with a degree and are looking to pursue a job as a XYZ in Anytown, state/province/country.
• The Groups section is a great way to grow your network. Alumni groups for schools, hobbies, geographic focus, industry affiliations/professional associations.
• Follow specific company pages that are either on your “target” list or leaders in your industry or geography. “Share” and “like" updates that are relevant. This puts them into your feed/timeline. Make a comment if sharing about why you like the update.
• Share articles or press releases you see of interest in your industry (set up a Google alert or RSS feed)
• Make sure to install the mobile LinkedIn app on your phone. In the upper right hand corner, you can also create a QR code of your own profile; save that as a photo and you can share it with anyone at conferences, out in public, etc.

Hopefully this will give you a good overview of creating a solid LinkedIn profile during your job search. Good luck!

Recruiter – Candidate Interview Preparation Thu, 11 Jul 2019 00:38:49 -0800 Conquent

I’ve been a recruiter for over a decade, and my experience is pretty typical for a corporate (internal) recruiter. Here are some current candidate themes I have seen.

<b>Interview preparation: it is completely reasonable to ask the recruiter what the structure of the interviews will look like, how many people will be on the interview loop, and general sorts of questions that will be asked, how to prepare, what to wear. </b>
<LI>However, for most companies, the recruiter is not the person doing the scheduling, so they probably don’t know what your final interview schedule will look like. They may not even know who all the interviewers are, especially during busy times like holidays and spring/summer when lots of people are on vacation. If you have received any sort of correspondence from another person (usually a Coordinator), then that is the person who will be managing the schedule.</LI>
<LI>While most recruiters should be well-versed with the requirements of the roles they are recruiting for, they are not on the actual interview team. They don't do the day-to-day work the interview team does. They can answer *general* questions about preparation for your interviews, but they won’t be able to tell what specific questions, or even necessarily detailed topics that the interview team would ask. Honestly I learn the most about what my client teams do in our interview debriefs; this is where we talk about each candidate after the interviews are complete.</LI>
<LI>Most interview teams are made up of a large interview pool, and most interviewers have more than one question. It is also worth noting that recruiters and teams do look on Glass Door; if someone posts that they interviewed for a specific position at a certain company and they were asked XYZ, then it is highly likely that interviewers will change their questions.

<LI>Even if a recruiter DOES know some of the questions you may be asked, they probably will not tell you those specific questions. Asking for this is like asking for the answers to your final exam. </LI>
<LI>The questions you will be asked in an interview specifically related to your experience are taken from your resume, your LinkedIn profile, your blog/portfolio/other online public sources. Everything on your resume is fair game for questions. If you overinflate your resume and skills, be prepared to justify to your interviewer WHY it is present.</LI>
<b>As part of the recruiter’s job, they are tasked with gleaning some basic information from you prior to the interview process.</b>
<LI>Your work authorization status. For US citizens, this question may seem strange, but unless you state on your resume or application that you *are* a US citizen, for legal purposes, we need to ask everyone what their authorization status is (basically whether or not they will require any sort of visa/immigration support at any point after an offer is made.) Most candidates that are on any sort of visa will understand what this entails and be able to answer this question. If you are on any sort of visa, the recruiter will be able to answer basic questions regarding applications for visas and green cards. Please keep in mind that they are not immigration experts, and will not be able to advise you on questions pertaining to issues other than “yes” or “no”. </LI>
<LI>If a company offers relocation benefits, they will confirm that you do need relocation or not. In the case where a company does not offer relocation, and you have indicated that you will be moving to the city where the job is located on your resume/application, the company will assume that you are providing your own relocation. Smaller companies often don’t have money to offer individual contributors (non-management/executive) candidates to move. </LI>

<b>Compensation: this is the “elephant” in the proverbial room. This topic is one of the biggest misunderstood and hotly debated conversations. So here is my opinion, and that of the majority of recruiters.</b>
<LI>Many parts of the country have made it illegal to ask candidate what they have made in a past job. Candidates can easily find this information online, but it *is* changing regularly. Until it is a federal law, candidates should be familiar with the legalities in the areas they are applying for jobs. Here is an HR-industry <a href="">resource</a> kept up to date with all state/city applicable laws.</LI>
<LI>It is a FALLACY that “everything is negotiable”, especially for your average employee below the VP level. The larger a company is, the more likely things will be less negotiable. </LI>
<LI>It doesn’t matter whether it is a $1-$2/hr or tens of thousands of dollars, *every* position has a range. </LI>
<LI>When a recruiter asks you for a range for your salary expectations you should be prepared to answer the question. You should have an idea of what you are looking to take home in cash at the end of the year. This would include your base salary, any equity, and cash bonuses.</LI>
<LI>It is totally reasonable to ask the recruiter what the breakdown of their particular total compensation structure looks like. (I actually start this discussion by giving the broader breakdown and specifically asking what a candidate is looking to take home in cash, either their base salary, or total for the first year.) </LI>
<b>I think the single biggest misconception at this stage is that candidates believe that recruiters are asking them this question so that they can lowball at the offer stage. While this may be true when working with an agency on a contract offer, this is very definitely NOT the case for corporate recruiters. As a recruiter, I assume that if you are looking for a new job, you want at least a 10%-20% increase in your annual take home pay.</b>
<LI>Salary ranges generally have a significant amount of overlap between internal levels. Many companies look for strong talent, and leveling doesn’t occur until after the interview. “Levels” are different for every single company and should NOT be the sole basis for compensation decisions.

<LI>Having a *broad* understanding of what a candidate wants helps when it comes to the offer stage; the more information we can share with the hiring manager, the faster the offer process can go.

<LI>Honestly, knowing what you are worth is the sign of a self-aware candidate that has done their research. Some excellent resources include: <a href=">Payscale</a>, <a href="">Salary</a>, and a quite granular <a href=""> relocation calculator</a> that can help you compare cost of living between different cities and competing offers.</LI>

<LI>It is fine for you to ask a recruiter what the ranges look for their roles. But it is a two-way street: if you aren’t even willing to discuss your expectations at all, you do risk the chance that you may not be invited to interview. </LI>

<LI>The responses “I am looking for a fair market offer” or “I prefer to discuss salary at the offer stage” are not generally acceptable in today’s business culture. </LI>

<LI>If you refuse to tell the recruiter what you are looking for in broad terms, then you are starting off your relationship with your potential new employer on a sour note: coming across as arrogant and uncooperative; ill-informed about current recruiting/job-seeking practices. </LI>

<LI>Just as you are looking for a transparent corporate culture, recruiters and hiring managers are looking for collaborative employees.</LI>

Recruiters are candidate ADVOCATES. They WANT you to succeed and are trying to set you up for success, and that includes being honest with you if your salary expectations are something the company is unable to meet. Honestly, we are trying to make sure that we aren’t wasting YOUR time as well as the interview team’s. ]]>
The Side Hustle vs. Your Day Job Wed, 14 Aug 2019 18:41:53 -0800 Conquent The first was an aspiring young professional looking for their first job after completing their education. I was looking at their resume, and one of their entries was “model”. I was intrigued; my most recent employer utilized models (although they were unpaid). I asked them about it. Apparently throughout their education and some early jobs, they had done some bona fide product modeling for campaigns for big companies in the area. They recently changed their hair color and apparently this aspect of their career has taken off. I thought it was a great topic of interest, but not relevant for a resume for a career resume. Then came the kicker: the model needs 1-2 days/month for photo shoots.
So there are two issues with this particular goal. First is that very few employers are going to just let you take off during regular business, and pay you a salary, to work for someone else. It is a conflict of interest. You can certainly use your PTO/time off, but the second reason is even more complex: the industry they are hoping to get into is in direct competition with the clients they were modeling for. Most employers have a non-competition clause in offer letters, especially in the tech industry. (My suggestion was to stick to consulting/freelance work if the modeling was that important to them.)

The second instance I heard of was someone that owned and operated a coffee stand. The problem is when this employee comes in repeatedly late (during established, core, business hours), leaves early to take care of business (like going to see their accountant to file tax forms or stop by the coffee stand to fill in for a shift if a barista calls in ill.) While this could actually be a business that works if the employee opens early and leaves to go to their FT paying job on time, and there is no conflict of industry interest, the employee STILL owes an employer their undivided attention during core business hours if they are getting a paycheck.
I have a former manager that neglected our team while they were trying to build out their own interior design business; it was a disaster.

Let’s be super clear: having a side hustle/job may or may not be a cause for concern for employers. I have worked as a corporate recruiter and also had a retail job on weekends, and it was not an issue. My last employer was super strict on NOT moonlighting. It really comes down to a conflict of interest and priorities. If you are accepting a FT employer’s money, benefits, training, etc. then you owe them your time and dedication. Tech companies often have provisions about IP developed while you work for them…you may need to consult an attorney if you do ANY work at all on their property (physical premises as well as equipment) such as build a software app.

The point is, if you have a side gig that you feel compelled to pursue like a startup, or a creative endeavor that you hope to turn into a revenue stream – you need to do it on your own time and not expect your employer to “understand”. When you accept a FT job, you agree to be part of a team, adhere to corporate policies and give your employer your efforts. If you really need flexibility, stick to contracting or freelance (1099) work.
Preparing For Behavioral-Based Interviews Wed, 4 Dec 2019 11:48:32 -0800 Conquent
There are a couple of ways you can prepare for almost any interview. One of the VERY BASIC things you can do is understand: EVERYTHING ON YOUR RESUME IS FAIR GAME for detailed questions in an interview. If you have skills or experience on your resume that are not relevant or *you don't remember the details* (for example, how a computer program works, specific procedures you used, or the details of a project including the outcome, team size, or the problem you were solving) then TAKE IT OFF or be prepared to defend and explain why it is still on there. Employers are looking for current skills and experience.

The other step you can take relates to behavioral-based interviewing, which is the style most companies use currently (also very similar to the STAR method). The premise is that how you have behaved and handled situations in the past will indicate future behavior *including learning from mistakes*.

So, how does one prepare for this? It is actually easier than you would think, because you will draw from experiences directly in your own life (and this includes school for new grads.)
You want to develop and really drill down (ie practice) responses for questions to general competencies almost every company looks for.

-Conflict management/resolution (with another person/group)
-Time management (how you manage your own schedule)
-Prioritization (this is different than time management-this is more project/example and deadline specific)
-Learning from mistakes (think of an example where you failed at something, and what you learned from it; if you can give an example of how you implemented that change in a similar situation, that is golden)
-Communication skills (how have you learned to collaborate with people that have a different communication style than you? Examples would be someone that prefers email vs. instant messaging, or likes to engage in small talk that impacts your ability to get your work done on a regular basis, or someone that saves all their communication for the end of the day vs. as it hits their desk - how do you work with them to resolve this, especially if it impacts your work)

Think through your work/school project history and select concrete examples of times when you have dealt with each of these sorts of situations, and how you manage them. Obviously, the questions involving other people are more difficult.

Most interviewers are looking for proactive actions, collaborative solutions, taking responsibility and learning from past mistakes, and understanding that you need to be flexible to meet changing deadlines/priorities. Ask former colleagues, classmates, or managers for examples they think of if you cannot figure any out. (I recommend NOT asking your family...they tend to have very strong biases and family dynamics are often magnified significantly over professional examples.)

Once you have your examples, practice talking them through with someone. Keep your answers succinct - 5-7 minutes or less for each of these examples. Any more than that and interviewers will think you are rambling and don't understand prioritization. Put a timer on while you are practicing with your stand-in interviewer. Most interviews are 30-50 minutes with 5-10 minutes for you to ask questions, so keep this in mind. As you progress in your career, make sure you have at least a few updated examples to draw from.

Good luck!

The Recruiting Process - Salary - Part 1: Terminology & Processes Mon, 6 Jan 2020 09:16:49 -0800 Conquent
Before we start, here is some terminology that Finance, HR and Recruiting/TA (Talent Acquisition) use that help explain some of the process that goes into recruiting. This is going to assume a basic understanding of business structure in terms of cost centers, budgets, and organizational structures. The point at which a company starts considering the implementation of these processes/tools varies, based on size, where they are in their business lifecycle, industry (ie some industries have much stricter legal compliance requirements such as healthcare or finance), cash flow/investments, variation of products/services. Most tools/services vary from spreadsheets to cloud-hosted systems that charge subscription fees. The very first thing to understand is that finance considers people *no differently* than any other fixed physical capital expense, such as equipment, supplies, or real estate. When drawing up an annual budget (for the purposes of HR this includes raises, new hire salaries, bonuses/equity, and benefits as well as equipment and physical space), finance is the first and final arbiter of resource planning. New hires, raises, performance incentives, and all downstream approvals are all based on budgets. “People” as a resource are differentiated from other types of expenditures as <b> “position numbers”.</b> Position numbers are fixed placeholders within an employer budget tied to the operating costs under a specific organization (usually either a specific business unit or a vertical such as operations, sales, marketing, product development, etc). Without an approved position number, new hires (either internal or external) do not exist. Position numbers are to track employees, and there is a 1:1 ratio of employees to position numbers. New position numbers may be added during the course of the fiscal year, but that requires approval from finance and leadership (C-level/SVP) and a business justification from the hiring manager and his/her management team. New position budgets are based on a number of factors including existing employees, growth projections, and overall business strategy.

<b>Headcount</b>: this is the total number of positions approved in an annual budget for an organization. Headcount includes every employee from the CEO to the receptionist or janitor that is an employee on the company’s payroll. When a Reduction in Force (RIF, or “layoff”) occurs, this means that the headcount and position numbers are being eliminated completely.

At the beginning of an organization’s fiscal year (which is NOT necessarily the same as a calendar year), new (added) headcount is approved, and may be approved to open during specific times (for example, midway through the fiscal year, like the beginning of Q3 or May/June for a fiscal year that matches a calendar year). This is often done in conjunction with closing or suspending unfilled positions from the prior fiscal year, and involves an intense assessment between HR, TA, and finance as to why a position is still open at the end of the year. Often the fourth quarter is a time when companies either scramble to fill open positions or start closing unfilled openings.

Finance, HR, and TA track the budget and headcount numbers via databases which allow for reporting capabilities and information management. The system that tracks employees is called an <b>HRIS, or Human Resources Information System</b>. It tracks all expenditures related to employees including compensation, paid time off, performance reviews (raises/bonuses), and benefits. (All of this information is purely from a financial tracking perspective, all tied to budgets.) The HRIS may be a module in a greater budget management system, or a standalone system. The most important aspect to understand that it tracks the 1:1 approved position to budget allocation. TA (Recruiting) uses and additional system, called an <b>Applicant Tracking System (ATS)</b>, to manage the workflow of hiring one person into one position number. When a position is opened (whether it is a new position, meaning it has not existed before or a backfill meaning someone was in the position and no longer is), the system generates a sequential number for the purpose of filling that specific position *one time*, which is called a “requisition”; this requisition number is generally referred to externally as the “job number”. If the position (number) is filled then reopened, a new requisition/job number is assigned; they are not generally reused. The ATS is different than the HRIS, and may also be either a standalone system or a module. The major difference in the HRIS vs. the ATS is that the ATS has two “views”: the requisition view, and the candidate view. Unlike the HRIS which has a distinct 1:1 correlation at all times, the ATS has a 1:many capability for the majority of the time a requisition is open, until an offer is made, accepted, and processed. At that point, the information feeds back into the HRIS with the 1:1 person filling the position number.

The budget allocated for a specific hiring manager at the beginning of a fiscal year is determined by the existing employees (number, skill set, seniority), existing and projected workload (increase or decrease of the team, organizational changes such as merging groups or even splitting teams.) At this point finance, HR, and Compensation (which is generally a part of HR) collaborate on the specifics of labor budgets (employee compensation). This includes: salaries (new and existing), bonuses, equity (if it is part of compensation). Compensation uses a specific tool called a <b>“salary survey”</b> which is an aggregated database that takes into account factors such as size of company, geography, industry, and title (usually initially based on the US
<a href=> Department of Labor occupational handbook</a>). Companies pay subscriptions to have access to this data, and they also self-report annually.
*When you go to a website like <a href=””></a> or <a href=””></a> looking to research salary information, the information provided is based on the same data.

When the compensation data is aggregated, one dataset that is generated is “internal and external equity”, which -simply put- is the comparison of salary numbers between existing employees (<b>"internal equity"</b>) in a specific group, business unit, and the company. <b>“External equity”</b> is the comparison of the same factors with external information (gleaned from the aforementioned salary survey).

Once all the salary data is aggregated and defined, THEN salary ranges and compensation elements are defined for new hires. It takes into account projected raises for existing employees as well as the competitive numbers externally.

Your Dream Job – How Much Experience Do You *REALLY* Need? (USA) Wed, 12 Feb 2020 15:03:40 -0800 Conquent
So, from a 17-year recruiting veteran, here is my take on pursuing your dream job based on a *job description*: If you meet at least 75% of the stated requirements including education, experience, functional skills, and industry tools – then yes, by all means apply. If there is a long laundry list of tools/software programs that are industry standard, and you have most of them or related industry standards, then go for it.

This is where I am going to put some major caveats around your efforts. It is absolutely vital to understand that small or privately held companies have MUCH MORE FLEXIBILITY in this arena. The reason for this has to do with government/federal compliance regulations. Contextually, there are potentially 2-4 different sorts of regulations that would affect larger employers, but the bottom line is: companies that are impacted by these regulations *legally can only hire candidates that meet the stated job requirements*. The “nice to haves” are used as qualifiers to delineate between equally qualified candidates.

The most broad set of employers impacted by this role are those that are government contractors or subcontractors with more than 50 employees and contracts of $25K or more. The governing body is part of the EEOC, known as the Office of Contract Compliance Programs. Basically the laws require employers that are compliant to have a process where they consider ALL QUALIFIED APPLICANTS for every job, and they can ONLY CONSIDER QUALIFIED APPLICANTS.

This list includes:
-All public sector jobs such as federal/state/local/county governments – and all public education roles.

-Healthcare providers that accept Medicare/Medicaid or any other government subsidies

-Any company that supplies goods or services to the government. This is the tricky one. Think of it this way: Microsoft provides site licenses for Office; Aramark may provide uniforms to the cleaning staff at the Pentagon (and the janitorial company as well); the company that delivers food, and the comestibles suppliers to all the military bases all over the world; Ford usually provides the vehicles to law enforcement agencies nationwide. GE provides medical equipment to hospitals, labs, and research universities. This impacts almost ALL enterprise companies in the US (whether they are headquartered domestically or internationally.)

One of the other main compliance organizations is USCIS. This will apply mostly to STEM roles, but it affects any organizations that sponsor H1-B visa employees. There are two ways this impacts hiring.
-To qualify for an H1-B, candidates MUST possess a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.
-When a company decides to sponsor H1-B workers, it must determine its’ standardized job descriptions for the position types that the visas will be used. Once those parameters are set, they legally must be adhered to and maintained for ALL recruiting/hiring efforts and processes.

As you are looking for your dream job, absolutely reach for the stars, but understand that employers may not even consider you if you don't actually have the qualifications that they are looking for.

Your UX Design Job Search Thu, 20 Feb 2020 11:18:42 -0800 Conquent
It should go without saying, but for a designer, a portfolio is the most important part of your professional profile. You should have a link to your portfolio link on your LinkedIn profile, on your resume, and any other online platform you use for marketing yourself. A lot of designers want to know what should be included in your portfolio. From our hiring managers:

Your portfolio shouldn't be just a series of "pretty pictures". It should clearly delineate your *process* for solving design problems.

Identify the problem you are tackling
-Delineate your ideation(s) to help resolve the problem
-Incorporate items like drawings, wireframes, prototypes, etc.
-Include your potential solutions, and *why* you have created each of them
-Showcase the final solution with detail about how it solved the initial problem

After your portfolio, your resume is your next self-marketing tool. I have seen a lot of design-oriented resumes that are lacking critical information. Designers have a tad bit more leeway when it comes to creativity and flexibility on an actual resume in terms of style, but elements need to be easy to read (the more graphics on it, the harder that is). Employers STILL want to know who/what/where/when/how.

This includes your employers/clients, and attached to *each* employer (who): what their general business is; where (this is their industry niche as well as geolocation); when is the timeline you were working with the client and *each project* in some sort of chronologic order; how - what tools/technologies/methodology did you use. Finally, if you worked as an actual employee, you should be able to include some metrics about the project. For example, if you redesigned the UI for a mobile app for an ecommerce company, how much new traffic/new customers were logged? What was the boost in revenue in the first 30/60/90 days?

As big data has reshaped business and marketing by providing exceedingly granular information on metrics that impact how businesses measure and scale customer and industry behaviors, trends in resumes and what hiring managers want has also changed. The further along in your career you are, the more detail you should be able to provide with numbers: budgets, revenue impact, timelines, size of projects (#, $, %). While it can be difficult to provide longer term numbers as a consultant or freelancer, you *should* be able to invoke the scope of work/contract for some basics. Did you come in under budget and early? Were you able to provide concepts in 1 iteration vs. multiple? If the client hired you for multiple projects instead of just one over the course of a project *say so*, as that indicates they liked your work and felt that you were able to gel with their vision. Since you may not have access to the metrics that show the success of a project, it is absolutely vital to be detailed on your process from inception to delivery.

Designers have a lot more ways to sell themselves than other professionals, but the "pitch" needs to be crisp, clean, and targeted. ]]>
Starting To Look Like 2009 For Job Seekers PLEASE READ Fri, 20 Mar 2020 17:20:17 -0800 Conquent
Being a recruiter with experience at companies such as Microsoft and Volt at the time, a had a lot of recently laid-off employees asking me the same questions over, and over. So: I started a free resource that anyone can access. This blog is over a dozen years of my expertise gleaned throughout my career.

I have kept it up date, I have added fairly regularly. So: here we go again. Please read this blog first before you reach out to me or any other recruiter; see if your questions have already been answered. Be aware that most recruiters are slammed right now, so trying to get an answer to your very singular question, which is already answered online in a thousand different places, may not make you a high priority.

I check my comments section once a week, and i get an email notification when anyone DOES leave me a message, so if you have a specific question not answered here, just ask.

My Views On Workday - The ATS Sat, 20 Jun 2020 11:54:30 -0800 Conquent
I am going to preface this by stating my long-held and validated (frequently) belief: if a company makes a fabulous HRIS, their ATS is probably mediocre - at best. The reverse is also true. Fantastic ATS does not generally equate to an equally awesome HRIS.

With that I am going to state that Workday is by far one of the top three HRIS systems on the market. The problem with their add-on module is the same as every other HRIS I have encountered trying to create an add-on ATS: the two systems are *VERY DIFFERENT* in terms of what the power user needs.

An ATS needs two equally robust view options: the requisition view, and the candidate view. The workflows need to be flexible as well as compliant. Reporting should be easy, flexible, and customizable. Hiring Managers, business leaders, and Talent Acquisition should *all* be able to look at any part of a recruiting process and get an overview with very little trauma.

I have worked with a wide variety of ATS' in my time. Until I met Workday, my least favorite was Taleo from a user standpoint (and also because the candidate application experience is horrendous). Workday has supplanted Taleo. My main dislike of Workday is the same frustration I feel with my LinkedIn Recruiter inbox: lack of filtering capabilities. I also really disliked the implementation I endured because of the dependencies from one workflow action to the next. The implementation was set up in such a way that I could not do anything about a workflow until the next person on the workflow function completed their action. So if someone was out of the office, or could not be reached, I was stuck unless I escalated to the next delegate (and since delegates in this particular implementation were by default the user's manager that could be problematic. Ask me about the approval for an IC offer that escalated to my CEO traveling in China. Go ahead...ask me.) Whether it was hiring manager review, RC scheduling, opening a was frustrating and clunky.

My contempt for it as a system is growing by leaps and bounds on a weekly basis. I spent HOURS trying to re-level a requisition, update an offer, and go through the approval process. THREE calls with IT support, 2 video calls with my mentor, and FINALLY got it to the right place so I could actually GIVE THE CANDIDATE AN OFFER.

I often wonder if the product managers that create ATS modules for HRIS systems actually *talk* to recruiters to find out what they want. If anyone out there with an HRIS is considering an ATS module, I am HAPPY to be resource. I have worked for agencies, small companies, mid-size growing organizations, and global TA groups at companies like Microsoft and HP. PLEASE ask me for my views.

For the record, my preferred ATS brands are Lever and Jobvite. I have heard good things about Greenhouse, and I liked Zoho Recruit. I also implemented Taleo Small Business, and it was great for a smaller organization. ]]>
Using A Cover Letter Sat, 29 Aug 2020 11:10:16 -0800 Conquent
I am going to give you some guidance on the role of the cover letter. The cover letter is an introduction from you to someone about a particular *job*. The biggest misconception I see is the belief that a cover letter will EXPLAIN why you are a fit for a particular position. Here's the thing: if your resume/CV doesn't have a direct correlation to the job you are targeting, a cover letter isn't going to CHANGE anything. It is your RESUME that is important, not the cover letter. You could write me a BOOK about why you are great for a specific position, but if you don't meet the stated minimum requirements, I'm going to pass.

A cover letter is MOST effective when you are messaging/emailing someone; put it in the body of your message/email. Keep it relatively short, but MAKE IT TARGETED. NEVER EVER use a singular template for every cover letter; that leaves a really bad impression. I cannot *tell* you the number of cover letters I have seen that reference a different job and company than the one a candidate is applying for. You need to write a different cover letter for every job you are applying for, addressing the specific position - making parallel connections to YOUR direct experience and what the job posting is listing.

I have plenty of articles and guidance for constructing/including cover letters, so I won't go into it here. Just remember that the cover letter won't change your qualifications for a specific job if you are not qualified for the basic requirements, a cover letter is not going to increase your chances at all.