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Living on Candidate Time

Date October 19, 2018 Comment Comments Off on Living on Candidate Time

Living on Candidate Time

clockIf you are in a job search, time can seem to stand still.  You send out resumes and hear nothing.  Or you get an initial response indicating that the employer would like to invite you in for an interview.  They say they will get back to you to schedule a time to meet; but weeks go by and you don’t hear anything.  And then there is the lag time after you actually have the first meeting.  You have a good first round of interviews, you connect with the interviewers, you send out thank you notes and you wait.

While it is a good idea to do periodic follow up during these lulls, it is also important not to be overly persistent.  You want the employer to know that you remain interested. But you don’t want to project an air of desperation.  If you don’t hear anything after an interview, wait at least a few days before following up again.

If you are working with a search firm, often your recruiter can be the squeaky wheel that helps keep the process moving forward.

The reality is that by the time an employer is looking to hire, they are already busy.   That is why they need to hire.  So their sense of urgency and your desire to have some closure may be in conflict (at least in the short term).

From the candidate’s perspective, you have had the interview and you are ready to move to the next step. Your job search is at the top or near the top of your priority list.  While employers are interviewing because they have a staffing need, the day to day demands of the business make it hard for the employer to move quickly.  In a law firm, for example, there may be several partners and associates involved in the search.  Each one of them may have client demands that make it hard to focus on the new hire.

Sometimes, the hiring process can be hampered by the schedules of other candidates.  You are in the mix, but in an attempt to be thorough, the firm wants to interview a number of candidates.  Each of these candidates may have their own scheduling conflicts.

I call this phenomenon “living on candidate time”.  Be aware that in all likelihood, if you are actively interviewing, your sense of time may be different than the employer’s sense of time.  The employer is likely to move more slowly than you would like.

If you remind yourself of this, then it may be easier to deal with the stress of not knowing.  You may still end up waiting a lot; but at least you’ll know that delay is not necessarily a reflection on your candidacy.  It’s just the reality when you are living on employer time.

Be Interested; Be Interesting

Date March 19, 2018 Comment Comments Off on Be Interested; Be Interesting

Be Interested; Be Interesting

Tell Me More

In the classic self-help book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie told his readers that they should become genuinely interested in other people.  Nearly 100 years after the publication of that book, the rules of relationship building have not changed and this still holds true.  If you want to make a lasting impression on someone, show that you are interested in them.  Read more…

Nailing the Job Interview

Date March 19, 2018 Comment Comments Off on Nailing the Job Interview

My colleague Amy Levine has some great tips for nailing your next job interview. In the program notes, I also mention my own interviewing tips which can be found here.

Talking Politics and Religion at Your Job Interviews

Date December 12, 2016 Comment Comments Off on Talking Politics and Religion at Your Job Interviews

Talking Politics and Religion at Your Job Interviews

…Barack Obama on the campaign trail in 2008

Barack Obama took a lot of flack for that comment in 2008.  On the one hand, he was marketing to his supporters and he struck a chord.  At the same time, he managed to alienate a significant part of the electorate.  Obama was on the right side of history, but when Hillary came out with her basket of deplorables quote, it hurt her in a significant way. Read more…

Speak the Truth and Nothing But the Truth-But it doesn’t have to be the “whole” truth

Date December 5, 2016 Comment Comments Off on Speak the Truth and Nothing But the Truth-But it doesn’t have to be the “whole” truth

Speak the Truth and Nothing But the Truth-But it doesn’t have to be the “whole” truth

What does “integrity” mean in an interview situation?  Certainly, you have the obligation to tell the truth during a job interview.  But having an obligation to tell the truth does not imply an obligation to to share every sordid detail of your past with prospective employers.

The current election has reaffirmed my belief that integrity matters alot in our personal and professional lives.  So where should you draw the line?  Click here to read an article from my archives.

In a Tight Market for Talent, it is Time to Get Out of the Box

Date November 21, 2016 Comment Comments Off on In a Tight Market for Talent, it is Time to Get Out of the Box

In a Tight Market for Talent, it is Time to Get Out of the Box

I’m starting to get into my year end marketing mode.  December tends to be a slower month for hiring simply because it is harder to get hiring managers to focus.  But as I’ve said before, the holidays are a good time for relationship building and a good time to queue things up for the New Year.  This is true for job hunting and for business development.

If you are actually looking to hire talent for your company, the same is true.  December may not be the easiest time to assemble hiring managers and get them to schedule interviews; but in a tight job market, you want to be ahead of the curve.  December can be a good month to use creative ways to fill your pipeline with talent or strengthen your bonds with good prospects.

With a tight job market, one area where recruiters can be creative is to look more actively at talent without industry experience.  There are clear instances where this is not a good strategy (Think “Heck of a job Brownie” after Hurricane Katrina).  There are many jobs where industry experience is clearly important (e.g. I recently worked on 2 searches for lawyers with licensing experience in the life sciences but steered clear of  lawyers who only had licensing experience in the software industry–the business terms in each industry are very different).  But in many other instances, a smart person has transferable skills which could easily be applied to a different industry.

On top of this, there are some fallacies about hiring from within your industry.  Industry experience may translate into a deeper understanding of the particular problems that your industry faces.  At the same time, the mere fact that someone has been doing a particular job for a long time does not mean they have been doing the job well.

In addition, someone who has done the same thing for the same industry for 20 years may be bored.

In contrast, hire someone who is coming from outside the industry and you may end up with a superstar who is much more motivated to learn and much more excited to be there.

Hiring managers are always going to display some conservatism when considering talent from outside of their industry.  As I said in an post last week, no one wants to be blamed for making a bad hiring decision.  But a tight job market will give you some cover.  And maybe you’ll be responsible for recruiting the next superstar.

Getting Beyond Industry Barriers

Date November 18, 2016 Comment Comments Off on Getting Beyond Industry Barriers

Getting Beyond Industry Barriers

Industry barriersRight now, many parts of the country are enjoying relatively low unemployment rates.  In my home state Massachusetts, for example, the rate is 3.3 percent, the lowest in 15 years.

For anyone contemplating a career move, this should come as good news.  As workers get harder to find, employers need to be more creative in hiring talent.  We counsel our clients all the time to consider candidates who have transferable skills from another industry and this should be a good time for anyone hoping to make this kind of move.

The reality, however, is that industry barriers persist.  In much professional hiring (certainly in hiring legal talent where I spend most of my time), hiring managers have a strong preference for seeing resumes of candidates who have industry experience.  This is particularly true in the bio/pharma space, an important sector in my region.

For highly technical jobs, the barriers are not simply arbitrary.  Having a good understanding of how a particular business functions can be critical to doing an effective job.  But for many job functions, the particulars of the industry are relatively easy to pick up.

So why do so many employers insist on industry experience?  In my opinion, it has to do with managing risk.  No one wants to be responsible for making a bad hire.  If you hire someone and they prove ineffective in their role, the last thing you want to have to do is justify that you hired someone who had never worked in the industry.

Does this mean we are all forever stuck with whatever industry hires us in our first job?  Of course not.  Many people change industries (including lawyers and other professionals).  But what are some of the things you can do to increase your chances of making the move?

Probably the most important thing you can do in trying to make an industry change is to network effectively.  If you rely only on posted jobs and submit resumes and cover letters without any follow up, you are limiting your chances of breaking through the “noise”.  Instead, if you want to switch from financial services to the life sciences, for example, find people you know who work in life sciences.  Use  your network to get introductions.  Connect with people who already know the quality of your work and your reputation.  Leverage your contacts to get in front of hiring managers who are in a position to hire you.  If you get introductions from people who can vouch for you, the hiring manager will be more likely to overlook the fact that you have not worked in their space.

While it may not be feasible for everyone, filling a role as an independent contractor is another way to gain industry experience.  Employers tend to be much less strict about requiring industry experience when they hire on a contract basis.  Find a good contract role at a good company and suddenly you become someone with industry experience.

Relatively speaking, times are good now.  If you are thinking about shifting gears, take advantage of the economy.  But don’t just fire off resumes.  That may not be enough to get you in the door.

Behavioral Interviews-Are you prepared?

Date November 4, 2016 Comment Comments Off on Behavioral Interviews-Are you prepared?

Behavioral Interviews-Are you prepared?

LinkedIn has put together an excellent guide to behavioral interviewing.  There are lots of sample questions that can be helpful to you whether you are interviewing candidates or being interviewed yourself.  Click here to download  your free copy.