Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dragging Out Hiring Timeline Can Be A Dangerous Game

To all those hiring managers out there here is a little tidbit for you……heads-up, candidates are being lost due to multiple offers. Within the last two weeks I have had clients lose their number one candidate due to multiple offers. There are two good points from this scenario to bring to light.

First, timing, timing, timing. Over the course of the last five years or so many companies have developed the belief that candidates will be available longer because of the poor economy and job market. So we have seen many of these companies drag out their hiring time line double or triple to what was the norm prior to the economic downturn. Well folks, you are playing a dangerous game. Both of these recent situations each company could have avoided if they would have shortened their time frame by even just a couple weeks. Of course there are unavoidable delays that can occur. What I am suggesting and actually recommending is that you do not stall out the process just for the sake of stalling it out. If you can make a decision in four weeks, do it instead of sitting on it for eight.

Second, is the job marketing turning? I am not suggesting that and frankly I don’t believe it is. But there is one consistent theme throughout any economy good or bad. Good people are hard to find. Your top candidate is likely a top candidate for other companies as well. Many who may be your biggest competitor(s). Why risk the chance of your competition getting the person you want if it simply means moving a little faster?

Every candidate dreams of having multiple job offers. These days it is not the norm no matter how in demand your skills may be. What is more common is offers coming in staggered. Because of the uncertainty of the market, the offer that comes in first is the offer typically accepted. Don’t come in second place when you could secure your candidate by moving quicker. Hiring decisions are important and the selection process must be thorough and well planned. I respect the process. But just throwing out a little heads up, if you want the candidate move towards that goal by making sure your timeline is as short as reasonably possible.

Any similar experiences you’d like to share?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Basketball, Bodybuilding, and Conducting a Job Search

Basketball, bodybuilding and conducting a job search. Anything in common?

Last night while working on my laptop logged into our work network at my daughters basketball practice I took pause as I heard the coach stop the girls during a drill to gather them around him. He talked about details. He talked about in particular being disciplined to the details of the shot. And how critical it is to be aware of your foot position, hip position, body posture, arm & hand position, and where your eyes are while shooting. He stressed how important it is each day to practice these details to move towards each player’s goal, making their shots.

This morning I did something I don’t do often and never used to do. I woke up at 3:30 and reset my alarm for 5:00. I stayed up to watch the Thunder/Heat game. No excuse but I’ll take it. So I’m coming into the gym at 6:00 and Chuck, someone that has known me for years, stopped me to ask why I was just getting there. I told him I guess I am getting just a bit lax. He said you need to get that discipline back. There is the word again - discipline. You see, Chuck knows me from the days of when I competed in natural bodybuilding shows. I was fortunate to have fared well in the contests I entered winning five overall titles, placing first in my class at the Natural USA, and competing professionally in New York City. That took a great deal of discipline and he saw how crazy disciplined I was back then. Enough reminiscing about those glory days.

So where am I going with this whole thing? The common theme naturally is discipline. A job search takes discipline as well. It takes coordination, strategy, planning and discipline. The goal is obvious, getting the job. The process can take a lot of discipline. Today when a job search can take longer than in years past it is a wise idea to set shorter term goals to help guide you and keep you motivated and moving towards the ultimate goal. Perhaps it means getting a planner and each night jot down five or ten people you will make contact with the next day. Jot down five to ten company web sites you will check for applicable job postings. The purpose of this conversation is not necessarily about the actual details of the strategy/process but simply that discipline is required to reach your goal just as discipline is required to reach any goal.

It’s important to not lose site of the goal. It is important to keep moving toward the ultimate goal every day by taking some sort of action. The details are important. Being disciplined to pay attention to those details and taking action towards each daily goal is critical.

How are you structuring your day? Are you incorporating an action each day to move towards your goal? Is your process detailed? Do you plan? Do you have the discipline incorporated into your search process?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Completing Employment Applications with a Cautious Eye

Before you fill out a company’s application for employment you better read this.

This certainly has to be the wildest thing I have ever experienced in my 16 years in this profession. Let me paint the picture for you. Our client is a leading international broker & risk management firm. Well respected. We’ve worked with them for years. The professional we are assisting is a well-respected & accomplished broker. The broker client HR Recruiter requests that the candidate complete their employment application. Offer extended. Offer accepted. Background check completed by third party company at client’s request. Third party company reports three discrepancies. Offer revoked. Here are the discrepancies:

1. Candidate worked for a broker previously in their career that was acquired by another broker. Instead of breaking the two brokers out the candidate listed their employment as continuous from date of original broker through end date of acquiring broker. Background check found that the candidate was employed with a different start date naturally.
2. At two previous employers the candidate’s job title per offer letter and stated on business card provided by each respective employer stated one title. Upon background check the “official” title on record in HR department records was different.

Upon being told of found discrepancies the candidate produced offer letters from both of these past employers stating title they used to complete the employment application. Candidate also was naturally able to easily explain the discrepancies in employment date regarding the merging companies. So all should be well, right? Nope. Even after the HR Recruiter at our broker client requested the documentation to clear up the discrepancies found by this third party company, they still would not reinstate the offer. Come on, why make this professional provide this supporting documents believing the offer would be reinstated only to not reinstate? This entire fiasco simply boggles my mind.

It certainly has served as an inspiration for this blog topic however. So here is the message to all of you out there completing company employment applications. Be absolutely certain that you complete everything on the application in 100% accurate detail. Be absolutely certain you use the same exact title for a previous position that can be confirmed by your previous employer’s HR department not necessarily what you think your job title was. Be certain if you worked for a company that was acquired by another that you list these out separately with exact dates.

While this is about completing employment applications, I would certainly say that this also applies to your resume and LinkedIn profile. Leave nothing to chance. This was an extremely unfortunate situation for this person. One that frankly should never have happened. However it serves as a reminder to be absolutely certain to have all information on your resume accurate and detailed out, be certain your LinkedIn profile is also accurate and that you complete employment applications with a very cautious eye.

Any similar experiences from any readers?

Friday, June 1, 2012

What Do You Wear For A Job Interview?

When I first entered this profession after ten years working for an insurance carrier, I went through a very detailed & thorough training period. My employer was interested in me being successful in my position. To be successful in my role I had to learn how to help people. How to be their resource, their consultant, their counselor and their advocate. I had to learn about details. Things that many people take for granted. I had to guide executive candidates with many years of industry experience. What I found was an appreciation from my audience. The professionals I coached and counseled found what I had to say very useful. Often it seemed overkill, but I figured if I can provide just an ounce of useful information it was well worth it.

In those days business casual was not quite generally accepted business attire as it is today. In those days there was never a question of what you wear to an interview. Well, in most cases. Though believe me, I have lots of very interesting stories on what not to wear. Even then baby blue suits were not okay. Today the question of what to wear to an interview has a whole new meaning.

These times of business casual leave much open to interpretation. What is acceptable to one company may not be to another company. Therefore dressing in business casual to an interview leaves too much to chance. Why take chances? As is said you only get one chance to make a first impression. Competition is tough. Jobs are scarce. Why take chances on your first chance at your first impression?

I am often asked the question, "If the employer is business casual shouldn’t I dress in business casual to the interview?" As outlined above, short answer is no. But what if the employer tells you it’s okay to come in business casual? My answer is the same. Even if they tell you it is okay what if you interpret business casual differently than they do? An acceptable option would only be if you wore nice slacks, nice dress shirt and a blazer/jacket. Anything less, is just leaving too much to chance.

However, in the majority of situations I would recommend dressing the part. But it is about details. The suit should be up to date. It should be pressed. No buttons missing. No stains. No frays. The socks should not be stretched out. They should match the suit. They should match each other. Shoes should be clean and free of major scuffs. Soles should not have significant wear. Shirt should not be frayed on the collar. No stains. Solid colors are okay, but nothing too loud. White is always the best bet. Wear a tie that is up to date and matches. No character ties. Leave your Bullwinkle tie at home.

If your interviews span a couple days be sure to bring two sets of clothing. I had a candidate that had an evening dinner interview. They spilled sauce on their shirt. Couldn’t get it out and wore it the next day through all their other interviews. What do you think the feedback was?

Get a fresh haircut. Trim and neaten any facial hair. Trim finger nails. Details, details, details. Remove earrings. Cover tattoos.

Okay women, business suit. Which kinds of business suits are acceptable? No shorts suits, no skirts above the knee, but skirts below the knee are okay with no tattoos showing, etc. As far as shoes... professional flats, pumps and heels, peep toe, and boots are acceptable. Acceptable shirts would include high neck blouses and shirts. It is also important to point out that fingernails should either have no polish or be completely polished with no chipping in a conservative color (i.e. no blue, green, purple, etc.). Keep jewelry classic, but not over the top. Earrings okay for women. A watch always adds a nice touch.

Check out Capstone's "Interview Attire" boards on Pinterest. We have pinned multiple pictures of acceptable interview attire for both men and women. Let me know if you have any questions and/or thoughts.

Here are a couple examples of what we have pinned on Pinterest: