Friday, December 11, 2009

Blog about your job search?

This may sound like a crazy question, but here we go....should you blog about your job search? My take? ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, YES YOU SHOULD! Here's why:

1) Share your experience and help others- Other people are looking for jobs too, other people are having the same frustrations you are....so why not share and build your own community. You'll feel better about each interview and with a little luck find a few folks who you can use to bounce ideas off of as well as do a little networking. Think about it, you interview at Company X and find that the deli across the street was a fantastic place for a coffee before you go into the meeting. I'm sure other candidates would love to have a great place to grab their pre-interview coffee **Disclaimer - if you have to sign an NDA, don't share anything that would put you in violation!**

2) Get your thoughts down, in writing - Ever leave an interview and have a full range of emotions? It was great! It was terrible! The LOVE me! Well, what better way to put your immediate thoughts down than to write a quick blog once you are done. This forum will also allow you to send it to your friends and colleagues to get their thoughts. Rarely will you get instant honest feedback from the company about your interview, why not get your thoughts/impressions out to your network and see what they think. I think you'll be surprised at some of the tips and advice you'll get **Same NDA advice here**

3) Polish up your skills - Write much? I'm a terrible writer but blogging has helped me polish up my skills (UNH education here...) I'll never be mistaken for Hemingway but blogging allows you to show the world what you've got. Blog about your interviews, resume, experience, luck with job boards, distaste for job fairs, networking expertise, you name it, blogging about your experience will help you reflect on things and improve yourself.

4) Show people you care - Blogging means you are passionate about something. Props to @garyv (www.garyvaynerchuk.com) for really showing me the way on this topic. If you are passionate about your job search, blogging will show people you care and allow you to tell the world "Yes I'm looking for a job, and proud of it".

Finally....

5) Social Media is the Future - Duh right? File that under "cliche'" but it's true. Using your blog or twitter account to thank your interviewers is cool. I've had several candidates ping me via Twitter or blog about their experience with me and think it's cool. It's a great way to say "thank you" but also to show the company you "get it" and are someone who's got an eye on the future. **Last disclaimer - don't trash people in your blog, it's poor taste, never goes a way and send the WRONG message no matter how much the other person might deserve it"

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mail me your resume?

There is a school of thought that mailing or faxing your resume to a company is a bad idea........well, schools out on this topic. Don't mail or fax your resume. It's one of those things that you learn growing up. Use nice paper, write a professional cover letter.....that advice was good in 1989, but today it's old fashioned and shows a potential employer that you are behind the times. Here are few tips one how you REALLY want to go about submitting a resume.

1) Apply online - Um, yeah, resume black hole? Maybe. But doesn't matter you absolutely positively have to apply for a job online. Why? It gets your resume into play officially and also puts it into a format that the company can use to manage and track your application. Every company needs to track its applications, make it easy for them to hire you.

2) Find someone who works there and have it submitted as a referral - Companies hire employee referrals at a much higher rate than any other type of candidate. Does it matter how strong the referral is? Not really. What really matters is that someone within the company thinks you are a potential hire. So, ping your network, reach out to friends, do whatever you need to do and find someone to refer you to the company. Trust me on this one, it works

3) Email it to the recruiter - That's right, it's that easy....but don't do this until you've applied online. Why? Because the first thing recruiters do is go and check if you've applied and are already in the system. If you are, then the application is easy for the recruiter to manage and allows them to quickly get the ball rolling.

4) Find a good agency who can help get you in - Sound crazy? Depends on the company. Some companies don't have an HR or recruiting team to do this stuff....so they outsource all of it to agencies. They are selective and only work with those vendors......find them engage with them and work with them to get the interview.

That's it for now, hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and that your job search is heating up!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Are you ready to hire?

Most economists seem to agree our economy is starting to turn around and experience positive growth. Unemployment is still high, but as the economy grows eventually the job market will take off again. When it does...will you be ready? In order to remain competitive here are a few tips to help make sure your organization continues to hire the best!

1) Get lean - Is your interview process too long? Take forever to get an offer approved? Now is the time to streamline your process. Reduce your time to fill and start hiring those great employees that you'll need to take your business to the next level. Why get lean do you ask? Because your competition is not only getting lean but getting mean.

2) DO NOT get mean - I'm of the belief that trashing your competition is the worst thing you can do. Lots of companies do it, and lots of recruiters do it. Waste of time, in my opinion. You should want to work with me because my company is better than your other options. I don't need to trash the competition, I know we're better and so do you.

3) Hit your network - When hiring ramps up, and it will...referrals will be your lifeblood. People you know are trustworthy, qualified and easy to find. So, is your LinkedIn networking current? Maybe it's time to start hitting those alumni events again.

4) Be prepared - You really need to understand who's hiring, what they are offering and be able to prepare your organization. If you are trying to hire a bunch of new college grads, it helps to know what the hip new startup across town is doing. Competitive intelligence in recruiting? Absolutely. You can't beat the competition if you don't know why they are successful.

5) Beef up the Staffing team, NOW - You don't want to need 5 recruiters and have a hard time finding them because the market took off while you were debating 4 or 5 new hires on your team. My advice, while you are figuring it out....start interviewing. You can always hold off on making offers until you have budget or approval but waiting for the ink to dry is setting you up for failure before you even start.

Anyone else have a few tips/tricks for getting ready for when the job market heats up again?

Monday, November 16, 2009

New post coming soon!

Hey Everyone, it's been a REALLY crazy few days at work but I'll have a new post soon.

Hope all is well and will get thing done this week!

Jeff

Sunday, November 1, 2009

You can always say no!

I have a motto that I use a lot, "You can always say no". It's really great advice if you are looking for a new job but keep turning down interviews. You should never, ever turn down an interview if you are looking for a new job. Not related to your current job? Take it. Not really in the industry you are in now? Take it. Interviewing for jobs is the only way you can be sure to really, truly find a job that makes you happy. Here is why:

You don't know what you don't know - How do you know you don't want a job if you don't interview? Need I say anything else? Really, if you don't take the time to talk to people you are letting preconceived opinions and biases influence your decision making. Stop doing that! Take the interview, learn as much as you can and make a decision based on the facts.

Practice makes perfect - Interview much? Most people don't.....so most people aren't good at it. So, what better practice than the real thing. Seriously, think about how much more relaxed and "on" you'll be when you have an interview you REALLY want if you've had a few practice interviews over the previous months. Plus, see tip above.

It's all about the network - Not the right fit for a job? Decide to pass? That's ok, maybe the person you met would be a great future contact or lead for you. Sound like a long shot? It's not, I've got a few folks who I've interviewed with and now keep in touch with professionally as well as personally (HUGE shout out to Sanjay here!)

So that's it, take the interview. Doing this will allow you to make decisions on jobs based on the facts, meet new and exciting people and fine tune your interview skills for that job you really want to get.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Do your homework before you interview!

Got an interview coming up and feel like you are prepared? Well, here are a few tips to make sure you are ready and have done your homework!

1) Have you researched the people you are meeting? You may only know a few or maybe just the recruiter...that's ok. Do the research. LinkedIn or just a Google search can tell you a ton about someone. You may be surprised to see that you went to the same college or if you can search Facebook that you have common friends. Seriously, no better way to start the interview right having something in common with the folks you are meeting.

2) What's the interview like? Ask your recruiter what you should do to prepare (do I even have to say that?) The other thing is to spend some time searching the web for blogs or web pages to give you a few tips. Some companies (like my current employer) have pages set up to help, and provide links to Youtube videos that can help. The Google example is here, other companies like Yahoo do similar things here. Plus, if you are having a technical interview you should be able to find a few sample questions that will help you understand the style of interview.....be careful here though, if you see a question on the web and it gets asked during the interview you should tell the interviewer you've see it. Why you ask? Well, let's say you get asked a technical question that takes an excellent candidate 35 minutes to answer and after reading it on the web you can answer it in 10 minutes....um, not good, people will notice, TRUST me. So, research the interview as much as you can but be honest if you uncover something that comes up in your interview.

3) Have friends at the company? If you have friends at the company, ping them, ask them for a referral. Companies typically hire about 50% of their new employees via referral so if you can take yourself out of the random pile and put yourself into the "referral" pile.....you'll be much better off.

4) Read the news - Big announcement at Microsoft yesterday? Well, you'd better know what's going on at the company you are interviewing. Nothing more annoying than a candidate who knows nothing about the firm, especially if there has been some really big news that has everyone buzzing.

5) Know the environment! - Again, not the most earth shaking advice but really important. Interviewing at a Financial Services firm? You probably want to wear a suit or at least ask your recruiter if that's appropriate. Coming to meet w/ a software start up? Doubtful you need to wear a suit. This sounds so simple and silly but it's really important. Not sure how to find out what you should wear? Ask your recruiter, ask friends, as anyone you know to make sure you don't stick out as the dude in the suit.........it just sends the wrong vibe. And finally, part of the environment is knowing the location. Don't be late, don't show up and say things like "My car is double parked out front, can you move it?" (that really has happened). With Google Maps, Streetview, GPS, etc etc not being on time or getting lost is just not cool. It never was cool but now it's just really lame.

That's it, do your homework people and you'll find your interviews are much more successful!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A job, a career or an opportunity?

Something a little different this week! A friend of mine, had a question that I thought would be relevant to anyone looking for a job right now. Hope you enjoy!

Hello, my name is Bonnie, and I am unemployed. It sounds like an admittance statement at a support group for the jobless, doesn’t it?

To some, this admittance may evoke a shameful reality or an overwhelming feeling of failure. And yet, to others, it elicits a sense of relief and an impetus to try something new or escape from the dissatisfaction of the status quo. When the world hands you lemons, make some lemonade, right!?

But I have to wonder how those lemonade makers got into a life of drudgery in the first place. Did they settle for below-average compensation? Did they choose the wrong company? Or, was it because they fell into the wrong career path altogether?

I have friends who have turned down good jobs in which they have great experience, in the hopes that their ‘dream job’ will come around the corner. And yet, they continue to search as their bank accounts dwindle, looking back with regret because they turned down a job during a recession.

Personally, I find myself stuck in a ‘seller’s market’ where competition is tough, and the ‘perfect’ job opening is hard to come by (let alone define). My grandmother, who grew up in the Great Depression, calls me weekly with worry over my jobless state. And my bank account too is dwindling day by day.

As I pursue my next employment opportunity, I can’t help but question whether I am looking for a job (a way to make ends meet) or am I truly paving a road by which my life’s happiness is dictated?



Hi Bonnie, I think this is a really critical question and also a great time to think about it. I was at U2 this week and had a revelation about your question. With Bono singing "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of" I had an "Ah Ha!" moment!. Here's a quick sample of the lyrics:

I'm not afraid of anything in this world
There's nothing you can throw at me that I haven't already heard
I'm just trying to find a decent melody
A song that I can sing in my own company
I never thought you were a fool
But darling, look at you
You gotta stand up straight, carry your own weight
These tears are going nowhere, baby
You've got to get yourself together
You've got stuck in a moment and now you can't get out of it

So, you're stuck w/ unemployment....well, it's time to get out of that way of thinking. So, when in comes to taking a job or finding an opportunity I think you need to do both......sounds silly right? If you get a "job" who cares about other opportunities. Wrong attitude. You can take a job, pay the bills and be a strong performer without having to feel like this is something you want to do long term for your career.

For example, let's say you always wanted to be an EMT or a Lab Technician. You could find a job, a job you like even that helps you pay the bills while you go through the requisite training to become an EMT. Make sense? Let me give you another example from my past employment history - I moved to Washington DC in 1996, "no job and no clue" as I like to say. I wanted to get into politics and work ideally on "The Hill". Well, anyone who knows anything about DC knows you don't just get jobs on the Hill they require a ton of networking and even that doesn't usually work. So, what did I do? Well, I first got an internship (unpaid!) for a place called the Center for Security Policy. A defense "think tank" where I did a ton of government affairs work and started to build up a network of connections. To pay the bills, well, I sold Karate services....that's right, I sold Karate. My friends in DC can verify this if you need confirmation. Pretty much, the worst job ever. I started in "collections" and was promoted to "sales" after one day on the job. I can honestly say say, these were some of the hardest days of my life........BUT, it worked. After four months of 16 hour days, I found an open role with a Senator from my home state, was referred to the Chief of Staff by a friend and now not only had an interest in the role but had four months of government affairs experience that sealed the deal.

So I think if I had to give advice right now, I'd find something to pay the bills. Doesn't really matter if it's a good job, bad job, whatever......but make sure that it is something that gives you the freedom to keep looking for great opportunities. Of course it's not realistic to work 16 hour days or do crazy things forever but if you can find something you are passionate about than do it even if you can only do it on the side, weekends or at night. Eventually you'll build up a set of skills and experiences that will allow you to do what you love full time.........and then you'll be on that road to happiness! Happy hunting, if you are reading this and would like to try and hire someone awesome, ping me for an intro to Bonnie!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What questions do you have for me?

Anyone who has interviewed with me has heard me ask "What questions do you have for me?" It's always my first question and is usually the hardest one I'll ask because it can lead us in a bunch of different directions. It's a silly and simple question but really allows me to address any issues you have and make sure we are all on the same page.

Well, with this blog getting more and more readers I felt it would be cool to create a forum where people can ask questions. So, if you have a question for me about recruiting, hiring, interview, job search you can go to Google Moderator and I'll try to answer as many as I can.

Sounds like fun right? So, give it a shot, I'd love to create a cool way for us to interact and really start a great dialog. Oh, and it's a shameless promo for one of the cool new tools Google has launched.

More soon!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Save the phone!

I fear the day of the phone is dead, certainly when is comes to a job search the phone is sooo 1995. I'll be honest, it makes me feel old and say things like "I remember and enjoy the days of pounding the phone." Cranking out 500 calls a week, trying to build up the network. That's what recruiters did back in the day, I believe we now call it "old school". Many recruiters today have never and will never make a "cold call" and spend most of their time emailing candidates, performing Boolean searches, tweeting, etc etc.....

The problem with all this new fangled technology? Picking up the phone is still the best way to really get to know someone when you are looking for a job. People are busy so meeting with someone from every company you are interested in is not realistic, sorry, but picking up the phone and talking with someone possible. It's also possible for us recruiters to pick up the phone, cold call, network and find that hard to find great candidate.

The morale of the story here? If you are looking for a job or trying to recruit the great candidate...........pick up the phone! Sure, it requires you to be a little more outgoing than sending off hundreds of blanket emails to make contact but I can promise you that without a doubt you'll find more value from the call. For most of us this is a dramatic change in behavior so start easy - call your friends, former colleagues etc etc and make sure you are comfortable with the medium. Once you feel good, call that cool company and try to talk to a recruiter or (gasp!) call that candidate you saw profiled in the Wall Street Journal and "recruit" them!

That's it, just a short blog but REALLY important as nothing says I'm serious than a phone call to discuss.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Are you just "filling jobs"?

When I started this blog I said it would address not only issues for candidates but also for companies who are really trying to break traditional recruiting models and really innovate. So, in that spirit....a few quick thoughts if you are running a company or trying to build a team. I am re-reading "Winning the Talent Wars" by Bruce Tulgan ( www.rainmakerthinking.com) and one of his points is worth digging a little deeper. The line is "Staff the work, not the job", think about it. Does your company fill jobs or hire people to do work? There is a difference. If you need to hire 5 software engineers, you don't need a full-time recruiter to join your team. You need a contractor or temp to come in, fill the jobs and leave. Most companies, COMPLETELY miss this point and end up having all kinds of people on staff being underutilized or even worse, people who are supremely talented just wasting time looking for candidates that don't exist.

Let me give you an example.

Company A is looking for a "Patent Attorney who understands Computational Biology". They need this person to come in and help the company develop a patent strategy for their new biotech business. So, they spend two years, countless hours interviewing and a retained agency fee of $50K to find the 5 Patent Attorneys in the US who have Biology degrees. Make an offer and by the time this person is up to speed they missed their window and spend years playing catch-up. (Semi-true story,btw.....)

Company B is competing w/ Company A and needs to find the same person. They decide to outsource the work to the best law firm in town. Working closely with their internal engineering team the firm is able to develop and implement a strategy in 6 months. By moving fast Company B not only gets working on this problem first, but they also seize the market and are able to gain the upper hand against Company A.

Company A is thinking about recruiting and hiring as a "job" based problem, Company B recognizes that they need to hire some people but they can also supplement that core team with temps, vendors and contractors to get the work done quickly.

How do you hire for your organization? Are you filling jobs or do you staff the work? If you aren't thinking about this, my guess is that you are filling jobs and not thinking about the strategic implications of talent management. If you are a recruiter you should be working with your clients to make sure they are not only "filling jobs" but managing their talent in the most strategic way possible. Showing your clients how to "Win the Talent Wars" will be a "win-win" and help you build the type of relationships that every recruiter needs to be successful.

Like I said, this idea comes from Bruce Tulgan. Great read and great stuff if you haven't read any of his stuff I'd recommend it!

Until next time!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How to work with a recruiter.....

I've had a bunch of requests lately for a blog on how to effectively work with a recruiter. If you really want to maximize the services of your recruiter try the following tips. Also, these tips are true for agency recruiters, corporate recruiters, high tech, bio-tech, nursing, doesn't matter.......at the end of the day, all of the good recruiters operate the same way.

1) Be honest - I know right, do I really have to write this? YES. Don't tell the recruiter that you are making $200K if you are making $50K. Don't tell them you have never applied for a job at the company before even though you've now been interviewed for every job except Chief Bottle Washer. Your recruiter is your partner in your job search. Be open and honest with them, and trust me it will pay off. If you tell a recruiter EXACTLY what you are making now and explain what type of comp package you'll need to make a switch........they'll get it for you....and if they can't, it's not b/c they didn't try as hard as possible. The thing to remember about recruiters, we like to hire people and get deals done. So, be honest and upfront with your recruiter as it will help them help you!

2) Communication is a two way street - If you are wondering what's up with your application email or call your recruiter. Again, rocket science here but most people miss this one. Recruiters are busy, and in some cases they are ridiculously busy (ask me some time how may calls I do in a week). I figure, after meetings and other "non-candidate" related things, I probably spend 20 hours a week talking to people. It's really hard to talk to everyone as frequently as they'd like. So, don't be shy, I think I can speak for every recruiter on the planet when I say we appreciate the anxious candidate and know that if you are engaged with us you are probably excited about the opportunity. One last thing on this, send email and leave a voicemail. If we are on the phone all day (it happens) I may not get your message for several hours but I can usually email you back pretty quick.

3) Leave a message if you call - You'd be amazed how many people call me but never leave a message. I've been either on the phone or in meetings while the same candidate will call 5 or 6 times without leaving a message. Um, seriously it's REALLY annoying. If you left message and then follow up with an email you'll get a much faster response than just calling and calling and hoping we pick up.

4) Explain your timeline (in detail) - Not really looking around? Need a new job tomorrow? Going off to hike Europe for 8 weeks? The more your recruiter knows about your timeline the better job they can do for you. Recruiters are trained to push people through the process as fast as possible so we are always thinking "Go, go go!" If that doesn't work for you, tell your recruiter! Nothing more frustrating than sending a few emails and voice mails for a candidate only to get a call back 3 weeks later saying "sorry, I was on vacation".....um, thanks.

5) Ask us questions, LOTS of questions - Our job is to get you a job, so ask as many questions as you can possibly think of about the opportunity. You should be able to ask us anything, if we don't know the answer, we'll find it. I'm always amazed at some of the questions I get and really appreciate when someone stumps me. Questions about the role? Ask. Questions about the company? Ask. Compensation? Career path? If it's something you are curious about, ask....if your recruiter doesn't know ask them to find out for you. Really, it's our job.

6) Do your homework and confirm it with us - I hope this makes sense, but spend some time doing Google searches about the company, the team, your recruiter (that's right) pretty much learn as much as you can....and then when you speak with your recruiter use this information to make sure you understand the opportunity. For example, I had a candidate ask me "You spent a long time at The MathWorks and now at Google. I've heard they are both great places, what are the differences from your perspective?" Great question and really made ME think. So, do that homework and make sure you are 100% prepared for the interview.

Sorry I haven't blogged in a while, been REALLY busy lately not only at work but at home........so, more soon. Until then, I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Are your references "professional"?

What do your professional references say about you? Ever think about it? You should because no matter how good your interview went, if your references don't say good things about you....you're not getting that new job you want. Seems kinda harsh doesn't it? But it's true, a bad reference can single handedly sink an otherwise great opportunity.

Ironically, most people pay little to no attention to their references. I hear things like "I haven't talked to him in ages.", "I didn't really work that closely with her.", "I'm just his friend" but my favorite is the "one word answers" - yep, no, yes, maybe, absolutely. Joking aside, if you aren't taking the time to really cultivate and inform your professional references you are putting yourself at a disadvantage in any job search. Someone who takes their job search seriously has educated, informed, prepared and PREDICTABLE references. I recall a candidate interaction a long time ago where the recruiter asked a reference "Would you hire so and so again?". Simple stuff, nothing major, should be a straight forward response and it was just that...."I wouldn't hire that guy to stock shelves". End of interview, no hire, thanks for playing. If your references say they wouldn't hire you again, it's pretty bad but when they go out of their way to torpedo your application it's apocalyptic.

Without further adieu, a few quick tips on how to give the best professional references:

1) Give people who you know, trust and who will absolutely, positively say nice things about you - I know, right, who WOULDN'T do that? You'd be surprised. I'm not even going to talk about this anymore, do your homework, call your references so when they talk to potential a employer they don't throw you under the bus.

2) Give a former manager - Again, I know, not rocket science. I'm always happy to hear how great a guy someone is, or how they play a mean guitar or how they can finish Halo without dying..........but, at the end of the day it doesn't matter. I want to talk to someone who can tell me what kind of an employee you'll be once you are hired. Former managers are critical to making sure any potential employer can get the info they need to hire you without reservation. If you don't have a former manager who'll say nice things, try someone else in a leadership role. You need someone besides your lunch buddies to say nice things about you, especially in a competitive job market like we have now.

3) Make sure your references are available and expecting the call - This one drives recruiters crazy. Nothing more frustrating than leaving voice mail after voice mail for a reference only to follow up with an email that bounces back "On vacation until September 2013". Good times! It's common courtesy for everyone involved and will help also make sure our references say nice things about you.

4) Have a few people recommend you on LinkedIn - Simple stuff, and frankly it doesn't matter if this is a former manager or not. With the rise of social networking, more and more companies are searching the web for potential hires. No better way to reinforce that you are a quality hire than to have a well groomed LinkedIn profile that has several people singing your praises.

5) Keep in touch with your references to make sure you have a big stable of people to use -This is the final tip, and probably the most important. You want to keep in touch with people who can serve as great professional references. Seriously, think about it. How many former managers can you give that would say nice things about you? The more you have, the better off you'll be long term. You don't need to talk to them every day, week or even every month however, you should be just touching base once every quarter or two, JUST in case you need them or, get this.....maybe they need you. That's right, your former boss may be looking for a job and need a "former direct report" to say nice things...next think you know you guys are colleagues again. So, trust me on this one, figure out who will give you a stellar reference and then maintain and build on that relationship.

That's it, nothing crazy, nothing complicated. Follow these simple tips and I can guarantee you'll have much more success converting those interviews into offers. Happy hunting and if you are reading this and like what you see please let me know. I'm new to blogging and still feel like I'm getting my groove.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Networking 101

I'm sure you've heard by now that networking has become the best way to find a job in the current job market. This makes a ton of sense because it's a lot easier t hire someone you "know" than some random person who floats in off a job posting. This trend unfortunately makes it harder and harder to get hired than ever before, PLUS networking is not easy. Networking is a skill most people use only when they need it to find a new job.

The problem with this, is that by ignoring your professional network until you absolutely need it; is that your networks is in no condition to help you find that next gig. Think about a garden, if you don't tend to things it gets overgrown and becomes pretty much useless. However, if you keep it clean and put in the time/effort to maintain things, next thing you know you have a beautiful garden that provides beautiful flowers and home grown produce. Your professional network, is a garden and with the right amount of attention it can provide great things. Ignore your network and it goes to the weeds.

So, want to get your professional network in order? Here are a few tips to help. They are listed in order from easiest to hardest so don't try to tackle the last item first, gotta crawl before you can walk people :)

1) Develop and maintain your online profile - Do you have a LinkedIn profile yet? If not, stop reading and go open an account. It's free and has pretty much turned into a who's who of the professional world. Spend some time, developing your profile and make sure it's "complete" meaning that you have your job history, education, etc, filled out completely. Once you've done that, you should connect to other people that you know. LinkedIn is great because based on your profile it automatically pulls a list of people you may know from your work and educational history. Connect to people who know and watch your network grow. It's really amazing, once you've got a few connections you'll notice that you'll have access to 2nd and 3rd degree connections and your network is well on it's way. Keep finding new connections, join groups that interest you and keep expanding your network on LinkedIn - between professional connections and the number of jobs posted on LinkedIn its an amazing place to build your network. If you're not connected to me, you should be....find me and ping me a note that you read my blog so I'm sure to accept.

2) Reach out to old school connections - Remember Bill from the fraternity? Yeah, he runs his own company now and is hiring. That kid you made fun off in math class? Well, he's working at a new web start-up and they are hiring too. The moral of the story here? In college you develop bonds with people. Some of them last a lifetime, some of the don't....regardless, you should be using these relationships to help your career. I can tell you, my first two jobs were a direct result of my college connections. Ok, so this makes sense right? Well, how do we find these people who we haven't talked to in years? A few ways - Facebook, LinkedIn or your local alumni chapter are all great sources to find former college friends and reestablish those connections. The great thing about these connections is the are really easy to reestablish. Pick up the phone or send a quick email and next thing you know you'll be right back in the swing of things reminiscing not only the good old days at school but also talking about the future.

3) Touch base with former colleagues - Former colleagues are vital to your network. They know you, they know your work and they are likely to have jobs that would be a fit for you. Even better, former colleagues eventually move on the greener pastures too, and assuming things go well these greener pastures will need to hire too...that's where you come in. I'd recommend you try to talk to one or two former colleagues every week if you can. You don't need to have a 30 minute conversation, just a quick "hey, how's it going" and you are good to go. If you were to do this, you'd be talking to 8 people a month, and almost 100 folks a year. One hundred connections, who know you and your work could be a real asset if you had to REALLY start looking for a job.

4) Networking groups, user groups and other industry associations - TONS of these groups exist for the purpose of networking or exchanging ideas. A quick Google search will find you a huge list of groups that might be a perfect place for you to expand your network. What I really like about these groups is they give you a low risk opportunity to talk to people not only about "jobs" but also to talk to them about best practices and learn a few tips/tricks along the way. Another cool thing about networking groups, is they allow you to meet people and make connections in new industries. Many of these groups have sites in "LinkedIn" so you just sign up for the daily news feed and start meeting new people.

5) Industry Leaders - So, this is the hardest but potentially most exciting type of networking. Most industry leaders are active bloggers or tweeters and it's very easy to read their thoughts and learn from them. If you aren't reading blogs (um, riiight) or following people you respect/admire on Twitter than you should again, stop reading this and sign up for Twitter. Ok, welcome back.... So, you follow the people and heed their advice, great, now to incorporate them into your network. Ask these people for advice or their thoughts on your most pressing issue. Working on a new start-up? Ping some of these industry leaders a quick ask their advice. Trust me, most of these people really appreciate the opportunity to talk to someone directly. You may not always year back from people, but some of them will follow up with you and with a little luck and a lot of work you can build a relationship with thought leaders in your industry that should help you get better at your trade when you have a job but also help you find a great job when you need a new one.

Ok, so those are a few quick tips on helping to grow your professional network. Its not easy and its a pain to find time to network but you HAVE to do it if you want to succeed in today's hiring environment. Start slow, and take time each week to dedicate yourself to growing your network. I personally try to talk to at least two former colleagues a week as well as one "new" person a week. I'd really like to get that "new" number closer to three a week but I'm not there yet.......oh well, time to stop blogging and start networking. Let me know how it goes!!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Quick thoughts on "Smart and Gets Things Done"

Can't believe it's been a month since my last blog, wow, guess it's been a busy summer! Yikes!! I promise to post more consistently in the coming weeks/months!

Anyway, I just finished re-reading "Smart and Gets Things Done" by Joel Spolsky. You can find a link to Joe's blog and this book here. If you recruit for a living or manage a team of engineers you really HAVE to have read this book. I was wondering, has "Smart and Gets Things Done" been so over-recommended that no one reads it anymore? I've read it several times, but it strikes me as the kind of book that any recruiter worth their salt should read over and over again. So, I did a little research and Amazon has it ranked as number 94,865 on their site for books. Honestly, I found it pretty shocking as this is one of the few "must read" books on recruiting technical talent that I've ever come across. I'm hoping this ranking is because most people who recruit either have a copy already (doubtful) or they buy it used (maybe?)

Regardless, it got me thinking that I should do a quick blog that covers a few of the points that Joel talks about that really ring true and can help anyone who's looking to build a team, especially in the current economy. Hey, maybe I can even push "Smart and Gets Things Done" to number 9300 or something on Amazon.....riiiiight.

So, here goes! A few insights and thoughts that you can use to hire programmers or most any type of person.........(quotes from the book in bold)

The real trouble with using a lot of mediocre programmers instead of a couple of good ones is that no matter how long they work, they never produce something as good as what the great programmers can produce (page 11)

Can anyone argue with this? A bunch of mediocre programmers will create mediocre products, end of discussion. I'd argue that you could say mediocre salespeople would generate mediocre results, mediocre marketing people create mediocre campaigns...and on and on it goes. Even mediocre recruiters hire mediocre people! You could have the best idea but with a mediocre team it's unlikely to be enough. It's that simple, if you don't you'll be destined to a team of B players doing B work. The only way to succeed in business is to hire a great team.


The best people in every field, are quite simply never on the market (page 20)

THIS is the best quote from the book in my opinion. How many times have YOU put your resume on a job board? Zero? That's right, great people don't look for jobs. Jobs find them. Networking, employee referrals, alumni groups, etc are the only way to find great people. If you are a small or medium sized company that's using standard recruiting methods and job boards...good luck to you my friend. If you can't figure out how to attract/hire/retain great people then you will be playing catch up to those organizations who are magnets for the great employees you covet. Take the time to invest in your organization - facilities, benefits, technology, etc etc and figure out how to attract the best people in your industry. They won't be on the market, you won't find them on the job boards so you'd better be thinking of innovative ways to attract employees


To top programmers, the most maddening thing about recruiters is their almost morbid fascination with keywords and buzzwords (page 79)

I'm a recruiter and this drives me crazy...so I can only imagine how it would make me feel if I was actually an engineer. Great engineers look at programming languages as tools. They LEARN new things if needed and are constantly improving. If you are looking for a great engineer to do some Python work but won't hire the best Perl programmer in the world...you're missing out on a great opportunity. Hire the person, not the keyword. I can tell you that as a recruiter, I pretty much toss out the keyword section on the resumes I read. If you tell me you are an expert HTML, Java, C, Assembly and Cobol programmer.....um, ok, you MIGHT be but I have my doubts. My advice, skip the keyword section on your resume and only talk to recruiters who know what they are talking about.....and if you are a recruiter, spend some time understanding technology so you don't become just another add-no-value-keyword recruiter.


If you do have to say no to someone, do it quickly and respectfully....It's just common decency to let them move on to the next opportunity (page 119)

Couldn't agree more. This is hard, I mean REALLY hard to do if you are a recruiter. First, it stinks. No one likes to be the bearer of bad news. Second, you've got a million other things to do so this slides to the bottom of the list. As I write this, I know that I've told a few folks this week that they weren't a fit for my organization. They've gotten word, but I owe them a longer chat.... The worst thing you can do is become a black hole for your candidates, give them word as quick as you can. Voicemail, email, whatever you have to do just make sure you don't blow them off and further perpetuate the "recruiters never get back to me"


Ok, those are just a few of my quick thoughts on "Smart and Gets Things Done" by Joel Spolsky. Again, I highly recommend you give this book a read. It's a really short and easy read, maybe a day or two. Most of what this book says is great, I don't agree with 100% of Joel's conclusions, but that's what makes hiring and recruiting great as you can do lots of different things and still get great results.

You can learn more about Joel and his work at www.joelonsoftware.com or follow him on Twitter (@spolsky)

Finally, Joel if you read this, we've never met but I would love to chat sometime and pick your brain on recruiting!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What's a resume anyway?

A lot of people ask me for advice on resumes, especially with the current job market being so difficult. It's made me think, what exactly is a resume and what makes a "good one".

Here is what Wikipedia has to say: "A resume is a document that contains a summary or listing of relevant job experience and education. The resume or CV is typically the first item that a potential employer encounters regarding the job seeker and is typically used to screen applicants, often followed by an interview, when seeking employment."

So, really a resume is just the first step in the process of getting a job...you're first impression if you will. If you think about it then, the goal of the resume is NOT to get you a job! Your interview performance will determine if you get the job or not. The resume gets you in the door, that's it, nothing more. A great resume gets you the interview...a bad one gets you "filed". Making sense? So this is easy right? Any resume that gets you an interview is a good one. If you are looking to write a great resume here are a few tips/tricks to help you build that perfect resume:

1) Focus on your strengths - Go to Harvard? Working at a top company? Received a Rhodes scholarship? Put it near the top of your resume! Most recruiters have about a minute to review your resume but make the decision if you're resume is "good" in about 15 seconds. Based on that, why put your "best" experience at the bottom of your resume! If you have great experience or education, don't bury it beneath a bunch of useless information. If the goal of this document is to get you the interview, show people you have the experience and show them early. Don't wait until the end of the resume to tell people you went to Harvard or MIT....it might be too late.

2) Customize It - Use the same resume for every job application but can't figure out why no one calls you back? Is your resume the job search equivalent of spam? If you don't customize your resume for each situation, you are selling yourself short. Every job is different, so every application and resume should be customized for that unique opportunity. This requires a lot of work but it will pay off. Read the job description and then develop your resume to show the employer that you are worth an interview.

3) Details, Details and More Details - I read a ton of resumes that have no detail and are filled with keywords. Conventional wisdom says recruiters and HR professionals only look at keywords. Not true. When I read a resume I'm looking for reasons to interview the candidate. Leaving out details is the biggest mistake I see when reading resumes.

Who would you want to interview if you read these two sentences?
- Developed application to help track customer satisfaction
- Wrote 12,000 lines of Java on a Linux platform to develop web application to track customer satisfaction.

Exactly...so, if something is worth mentioning on your resume than it's probably worth adding a few details and making sure that when someone reads it they think, "Hey, I want to interview this person". That is after all, the goal.

4) Keep it short and sweet - Make sure your resume isn't a novel. No one and I repeat no one wants to read a 15 page resume. I've seen them, and can tell you by the end of page two my eyes are glazed over. You want your resume to be somewhere between a page and maybe three pages maximum. Lots of people will tell you that if you are fresh out of school you should have a one page resume - I disagree. If you have a bunch of internships or great experience, write a two page resume! At these same time, if you have ten years of experience don't write a ten page resume. Make your resume crisp and to the point. Use this document to tell your potential employer you're worth an interview. If you have to add a "Previous Experience" section to keep it short, do it! Most recruiters and HR people only care about your last few jobs and most recent experience....no one cares that you were a hall monitor in High School...trust me.

5) Email Only Please - It's 2009 people, I know you'll hear that sending in a paper copy makes you unique. Not really. Most companies use some sort of applicant tracking software, sending in a hard paper copy of your resumes means someone will have to scan it and then manually enter that into the system. Now, if the goal here is to get an interview than making more work for the gatekeeper is about the worst thing you could do! So, don't listen to people who tell you to mail in a resume - email it. If you want to impress someone with your eagerness, than figure out the email and send it to them directly. It's much more personal than applying online and is way more effective than killing a tree.

That's it, just a few random thoughts on doing a great resume. But remember, the resume is about getting you in a door. Make your resume relevant and readable because like they say you can only make a first impressing once!

Let me know if you want some tips on making your resume "Great!"













Thursday, June 4, 2009

Welcome to my blog and a few quick thoughts!

This is my first attempt a real blog to talk about recruiting, professional networking, how to search for a job and other random topics.  I'm open to any tips or recommendations on things I should discuss!  I hope you enjoy!

I'll start with a few tips on how to maximize your professional network, especially if you are in the middle of a job search!

1) Are you REALLY using LinkedIn?

Most people are NOT using these tools to their full potential.  If you are serious about building your network you should be actively connecting to college friends, former colleagues, that guy you met on your last flight home from Aruba and anyone else who you've met that might be a potential lead.  Just because someone doesn't work in your industry, doesn't mean they don't know people that might want to hire you.  Be proactive, make connections and search through your extended network...I think you'll be surprised how many great people just a connection or two away!

2)  Facebook is for kids

Um, no it's not...plenty of recruiters and managers are joining groups and working through their network to find future employees.  Join Alumni groups, interest groups and reach out to people work at places that interest you.  You've heard of Eric Barker right?  Great story of thinking outside of the box and using a tool like Facebook to enhance your search.  Full article on Eric is here - http://www.ere.net/2009/05/27/mba-grad-seeks-job-with-microsoft-posts-ad-on-facebook/

3)  Follow up with people, especially those who offer to help you network!

I tell almost every candidate I talk to to "keep in touch! If can help you out in the future, let me know." How many people actually follow up?  Very few.  When someone offers to become a networking contact for you, use them!  Connect to them on social networks, keep in touch with them and leverage their network too!  Recruiters and other serious networkers may not help you in your search today, but overtime may help you find your next great gig.....trust me on this one.

4)  Old-School Press the Flesh Networking is still extremely effective

People think because of the popularity of social networking,they don't need to attend industry events or alumni networking session anymore.....um, WRONG!  Technology will never replace the experience of a face to face chat or a shared laugh at a conference.  You really have to get out to these events, meet people and then incorporate them into your network.  Don't stand against the wall being shy either, everyone is there for a reason...NETWORKING.

5)  Keep an open mind

Talk to anyone who might have a job for you.  It doesn't matter what that job is, just get out there and talk to people.  If nothing else, you can use these conversations and interviews to fine tune your interviewing skills so when you do get an interview for the PERFECT job....you'll be ready to knock that interview out of the park!  A wise man once told me, "As long as you have options you'll be ok."  He's right, don't close doors before  you take the time to make sure it's not the right opportunity for you.

That's it for tonight, I'll try to post more this weekend.....if you like what you read - find me on Linkedin, Twitter, etc and get me into your network!

Jeff