new0r1http://www.nypost.com/seven/12112008/news/regionalnews/better_sign_of_times_143653.htm

As a recruiter, I have been face to face with innovative candidates trying their best to get their shot at an interview by doing something to wow me and get my attention. When I was contracting at CIBAVision years ago, a gentleman sent in a box of peanuts. Seriously, they were peanuts- the kind with the shells. They weren’t bagged or anything. Just a big box of loose peanuts. On top of the peanuts was a note that said “I’m nuts about CIBAVision”. Underneath the peanuts was a crisp resume. I had to laugh at that. I had gotten some weird things before, but never a box of peanuts. Two things came to mind. How did he know that I wasn’t allergic to peanuts and would find it offensive? I’m not and I didn’t. The other thing was if this man was willing to do something this outrageous without even considering the possible ramifications, how as a sales executive would he gel with clients?

Today as I browsed through the internet looking for interesting stories to read, I came across the story in the above link. Long story short, a gentleman who is a father of five lost his job a year ago. He was a casualty of the Wall Street fallout before it became a full fledged fall out. One day, he decided to make himself a sandwich board saying “MIT Grad for Hire” and wear it in the street, while passing out his resume. Some people might find this crude, some may find it interesting. But to me, it really is a sign of the times. I applaud this gentleman for going out of his way to stand out. I think it took a lot of guts for this man to do what he did. He ended up getting hired and that’s all that counts. People are going out of their way to be innovative and creative to find a job. Jobs are hard to come by these days and I can’t knock anyone who goes above and beyond to garner attention to get an interview. After all, don’t some recruiters (agency) pull out all the stops to get clients? It’s all about sales. Whether your on the hiring side or job seeking side, it’s all sales, and the best sales pitch (and expertise to back it up) wins the pot.

In the spirit of the times and innovation, I have put myself on eBay. No, I haven’t lost my mind. LOL Hey if the Governor of Illinois can “sell” a senate seat and Sarah Palin can “sell” a plane on eBay, why not me? It’s just an experiment I’d like to try to see if “innovation” is as accepted as people claim it is. I’ll keep you posted!

So what will you do to stand apart for the crowd? Are you ready to get down and dirty and bring out your true innovation?

Til next time,

Adrienne Grahamnew0r

Many times, people are torn between moving on to greener pastures and remaining loyal to their employer or team. For people who have had pleasant working experiences with their job, it’s often hard to think about leaving friends and co-workers behind and there is a sense of disloyalty that runs through their head. For people who have had rotten experiences, they can’t get out fast enough and often don’t think things through; which results in a lot of burned bridges.  In either case, there is an unspoken etiquette to moving on.  Leaving a job takes planning, believe it or not.

Always be looking for your next opportunity. Whether or not you’re happy, you always need to keep a contingency plan in the back of your mind.  As proven this year by the investment banking implosion, you never know when your time is up.  Even if you were heavily recruited like a first round draft pick, you still need to be cautious.  Keep up with the industry and what’s going on in other businesses you may wish to work with at some point of your career. This intel will come in handy when you decide (or it’s decided for you) that it’s time to go.

Always re-evaluate your worth. Each year, you need to step back and evaluate whether your total compensation is on par with industry standards for your particular role in your geographical area. Sites like Salary.com and Payscale.com can give you an idea of salary ranges. Also factor in your performance factor. If you are under performing you cannot realistically expect to get a raise.  Compensation is a huge component of changing jobs.  Make sure your reviews bring earned raises and bonuses for your performance.  When you’re seeking your next opportunity, think in terms of base salary because not all companies have the same bonus structures.  That’s something you can discuss when you get into the interview process.  Be realistic and negotiable, but don’t sell yourself short.

Create a plan. Like I mentioned, you can’t just leave.  That’s asking for disaster and it doesn’t look very favorable for you when employers see you are willing to just leave.  If you’ve hung in there as long as you could, and still can’t take it any more or seek more in your career, start with a plan.  Write down your thoughts and desires for your new career or position. Research on the internet and through reading (magazines, journals, newspapers) to get an idea of what appeals to you and what companies you’d like to work with.  Create a time line for when you wish to make your move.  Schedule time for vacation or personal days off, if possible, so you can freely begin to interview and not infringe on your employer’s time.  Create a list of key people you need to connect with or be introduced to that may be able to help you with your strategy.

Get out there and start your ground strategy. Start scheduling some face time (or at least phone time) with some of your network contacts and new acquaintances and have informational sessions.  These should not be full fledged interviews, rather, a chance to get to know their company and industry.  Attend networking events that are inline with your professional goal.  Get to know the key players and start building relationships with them.  After initial meetings, go back home and research them and open a line of communication with them.  Find commonalities and use those as a foundation for building a relationship. The more prepared you are, the better your search should go.

Don’t wait until you’re leaving to tap your network. This is an act I despise most.  It really irks me when people don’t contact me for months, years, decades and then all of a sudden because they need something, they decide to chit chat.  Don’t do that.  It’s rude and selfish.  You’ve heard me say countless times that your network needs to be cultivated and that means building relationships. While I’m not suggesting you email them every week, get into the habit of regular contact.  This could be quarterly, semi-annually or annually.  People like to help or do business with people they know.  And this is especially true when you’re looking for a job.  Don’t take the risk of appearing rude or selfish.  And as always, make sure you give something back in return.

Translate your skills and experience into new areas. Now, as a recruiter, it is my job to find matches based on what the hiring manager needs.  Sometimes these managers are inflexible and have specific requirements of their applicants.  Some times I can talk them into relaxing their requirements and look at comparable skills, but most times I can’t.  That is true for most recruiters.  So it’s up to you to really sell yourself.  Way before you start job hunting, examine your skills and accomplishments.  Read the different postings on various job boards to get an idea of what people are looking for.  Talk to people in different companies and industries who would be considered your counterparts and ask about typical routines and expected accomplishments. Journal your findings and thoughts on your own skills.  Run through scenarios where your skills could translate.  Once you have this down, when you begin interviewing, you can show your true value to potential employers.  Bridge your talents to the job and find the connection.

What will you look back on and be proud of in your career? Keep track of all of your “hits” and document them. Reference them in your resume, but don’t go into deep detail.  Word it in a way that makes the reader interested in learning more. Then in your interview, you can give them full details. Substantiate you hits with written references from supervisors, team mates and/or clients.

Set up a resume for success. Highlight accomplishments and awards. If you write for or own websites or blogs, list them.  Social media is becoming hugely acceptable by recruiters these days.  They want to get a look into your thought process.  Don’t write your resume as a chronological listing of job descriptions.  Anyone can lift verbiage from job ads or descriptions.  Nobody cares about the generic description of what your supposed to do in a job.  They care about what you actually accomplished and how good you were at your job. If you’ve jumped around quite a bit, as in the case of contractors, prepare a functional resume.  Always try to keep your resume at two pages. Anything beyond that is clutter.  As a rule of thumb, go back ten years in detail, and condense the rest.  Always focus on key accomplishments and significant contributions.

Assemble your cheering section and get it in writing. Now is the time to get the people who support and encourage you best to speak on your behalf.  Ask for letters of reference and ask them to honestly give their assessment of you professionally. Do not confuse this with Linked In recommendations.  Those are good if people go to your profile and read them.  But you should have a career portfolio, and part of that portfolio is a section with written recommendations and acknowledgments.  While you’re asking for references, make sure the people you ask are open to you listing them as references.  Be courteous and let them know each time you use them as a reference so they’ll be prepared for phone calls or email.

Sometimes it takes a lot to decide to leave a job.  The bottom line is you have to remain loyal to yourself and make the decisions that are best for your professional success.  There’s a right and a wrong way to do it.  Make sure you always do it the right way.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

Let’s face it, these are tough economic times and it doesn’t look like things will be letting up any time soon. Many people on Wall Street lost a lot of jobs this year. I’m not too concerned about the fat cats, because they’ll bounce back on their fat wallets. My concern is the “little” people, the supporting players who got burned in all of this fall out. The ones who had no contingency plan because they assumed that because they worked for legacy companies, that they were safe. Now, I tell everyone they need to have a back up plan. That’s just a given. Even if they recruited you hard as if you were an NFL hopeful, that still doesn’t guarantee anything. Nothing is forever and this last couple of months proves that.

In crisis mode, it’s hard to think clearly because the panic has set in. It’s all about “I need a job NOW” and that’s a normal reaction. But in crisis mode is where we often make the most mistakes and end up cheating ourselves. Sure, it’s easy to just take the first job that comes along because you have bills to pay. Nobody wants to be unemployed, but it is what it is. In times like this, a clear head and logical thinking needs to take presidence. Employers know that this is the best time to undercut and save on salaries so they are going to low ball you every chance they get. Do you really want to work for a company that will willingly pay you less than what you’re worth? I wouldn’t want to work for that company. I know my worth and it is high.

When you find yourself in this situation, step back and breathe. Sit down somewhere (away from home) and start journaling. List all of your professional assets and the major contributions you’ve made in the last 5 years. Then list the minor accomplishments (what may be minor to you could be major to someone else). Then write down the ideal type of jobs you would love to have. Go for broke and just write what’s in your heart. Then write the jobs you are most qualified for. This will give you a beginner’s road map to getting where you want to be. Now if you’re a secretary you can’t expect to be a doctor next week (unless you have an MD). So while I say go for broke, also be realistic. Then I want you to start looking at your skills and accomplishments and determine which can be transferred to a new position and in what capacity. Finally, get on the net and start looking at comparable salaries and job titles on Salary.com orPayscale .com. You can also see who is posting salary ranges on the job boards, which is where I’m sending you next. This gives you something to compare the current going rates, with where you were, and where you want to go. That way you can prepare a compensation package range that is comfortable to you.  Seeing your total picture gives you a better understanding of your options.

Next step is finding the job leads. I won’t go into that because you should already know how to find a job. Let’s instead focus on thepre -screen. If a job doesn’t list a salary or range, don’t be afraid to inquire about it. Many experts will tell you not to talk about salary until the very end. This situation is a bit different. You are in crunch time. You cannot afford to wasteanyone’s time, especially your own. Why waste valuable time interviewing for something clearly out of your range? You could spend that time finding suitable interviews. If they cannot give you a range or set salary, give them yours. They will be able to tell you if that is in their range, and if it’s not and they want you bad enough, they’ll adjust. I’ve seen it happen many times. Now the caveat here is that it doesn’t fiteveryone’s situation. If you made $75K in your last job and this job is comparable, and you’re asking $100K I can pretty much guarantee you won’t get that. Let’s be reasonable and logical about it.

Do your research! The more knowledge you have the better position you have to negotiate. You need to walk in there knowing everything you can about the company, its products and services, the position (or its equivalent) and the going rates. Also, how badly do they want you? Now I’m not saying take advantage of this and come in thinking you are running things. No, no, no. That is the exact way to get yourself booted out of the running. You can still capitalize on the situation, but you have to be savvy about it. You know they want you, they know they want you, just be prepared to show them why you deserve your asking price. Be prepared to show and prove your past accomplishments and contributions to your last company. Make them feel more secure in their choice by showing them why you’re worth it.

Don’t rush to accept the first offer that comes your way. You are not obligated to give an answer right away. As a rule of thumb, ask for at least 48 hours to think it over. On rare occasions, I’ve seen people ask for, and get, a week to think about it. If you have no other offers on the table and none in sight, this is not the time to ask for a long thinking period. I’d ask for 48 hours, then hustle on the follow up with the companies you’ve interviewed with. It’s perfectly fine to call and ask if you are at least in the running. The answers you get will determine your actions. If you have offers on the table, take the time to mull them all over. Don’t just look at the dollars, but the entire picture. How is the commute? Will you enjoy the work? Is it something you really want to do? What is the level of responsibility? What are the additional benefits? Is there room for advancement? What about additional training and continuing education opportunities? Does the company and culture fit with your ethics? See, it’s not always just about the money. You can be offered a job that pays way more than your last, but you might be required to travel constantly and be away from your family. Or you can be offered a job at or a little less than your last job, but can work from home some times, have more professional freedom and tuition reimbursement. So make sure you weigh your options carefully and decide on what’s best for you. Even if you are in crisis mode, you still have some leverage.

Be prepared to walk away.  You’re probably saying “Are you crazy! I need a job NOW!!” and I get that.  But you need to hear something that you should never ever forget.  Everything is negotiable.  I’ll say it again, everything is negotiable.  I’m not advocating walking away after the first offer.  That’s just crazy.  Here is where your negotiating skills need to come into play.  You must be able to negotiate on your own behalf.  I’ve seen too many women (heck, people in general) simply accept the first offer.  I’m a recruiter and I amoligated to make the hiring manager’s offer, even if I think it’s too low.  And I’m telling you, almost all of my managers have said “well let’s start here and see if he/she will accept”.  They are willing to go higher, but for the sake of the budget, they’ll start low.  I try to approach candidates by asking them what range they were looking for just before I make the offer. Sometimes, they’ll ask to negotiate higher, but most times, they’ll accept the first offer.  Never accept the first offer.  If you feel you are worth more, communicate that.  Ask to negotiate a better offer.  If you have other options and they are not willing to negotiate, be ready to walk away.  What good is it to accept an offer that you know won’t support your lifestyle?  Yes, I know it’s about paying your bills.  But do you really want to accept any job at any salary and still be left wondering how you’re going to make up the difference?  Why put yourself through that stress?

So make sure you’re prepared and logical when you find yourself in this unfortunate situation.  Be consistent.  The right opportunity will come along, but you have to work for it….hard.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

The internet is on FIRE. It is used for everything imaginable. A great deal of people search for jobs on the internet and don’t give a second thought to it being any different or unsafe than any other method. Let me ask you this. How many times have you gone to a message board, Myspace, or any other public forum and posted your address, phone number and email address? You might be thinking “why the heck would anyone do that?”. But you know what? YOU do it all the time. We all do (well not me). That is how recruiters, like myself find you. Here’s what I mean.

It is a common thought that job boards, like Monster, Careerbuilder, Dice, etc are only accessible by recruiters and HR professionals. WRONG. Kind of. The problem is they allow any company or agency to buy a subscription. Here is why that is a problem. We assume for the sake of argument that companies legitimately buy their subscriptions to seek out employees and post their jobs. But people leave their jobs (recruiters, HR people, etc). Sometimes companies forget to change log in information. Also, smaller agencies look to “sub lease” or sell their subscriptions to other independent agencies to help alleviate the costs. So you don’t truly know who is getting access to this information. Now this is not to knock or point the finger at any one board. A lot of those boards have helped me do my job in the past (I’ve moved on to more sophisticated search methods). And they do fulfill a need…matching employers and job seekers. But it is up to the individual to take precautions on their own.

  1. Don’t post any information on your resume or online job search profile that you would not put on Craig’s List, the supermarket bulletin board, MySpace, or any other public forum. This includes home or work phone numbers, home or work addresses, social security numbers, etc. You’d be surprised at the number of people who put this information on their resumes.
  2. Personal security begins with you. When preparing your resume, opt for a P.O.Box address or simply use just the city and state you live in. A recruiter who is truly interested in contacting you will understand your apprehension of sharing your address.
  3. Use a cell phone number…that you check often. Some people use their cell number as their primary contact number. That’s fine. If you feel comfortable using a work number or home number, you can do so.  Just remember you are opening yourself up to calls. A cell phone number is more discreet and can be changed easily without disrupting your life.
  4. Do not use your work email. First of all, you shouldn’t be getting job solicitations at work. The public doesn’t need to know where you work. You can use your alumni email, a home email through your ISP or any of the free email options out there. I would opt for a first initial and last name if possible when creating our email address. Whole names or those funky names some people come up with (you now what they are) are not ideal to use.
  5. Make your current employer confidential. I usually advise people to make all of the employers on their resume confidential and only cite the position, city and state if you are really looking to remain confidential. If you think about it, say they have your name but not your current employer’s name. Well, all they have to do is go back to your previously listed employer and call them to try to find you. So having all of them confidential isn’t a bad idea. It’s a matter of personal preference.
  6. Always research any company that contacts you. Now, I’m not intimating that you should be afraid to speak with a recruiter. There will be times when you have not heard of a company. It doesn’t mean they are not legitimate. Ask for a number to call them back, then check the web to see if you can find information about them. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. And besides, what if your boss happens to stumble upon your resume.  Confidential is the way to go to avoid drama.

I hope this doesn’t scare you out of a job search. We all could stand to be a little bit more cognizant of what we put out about ourselves. A little commons sense and an ounce of prevention go a long way.

Til next time.
Adrienne Graham

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