Before You Accept That Job Offer: Learn as Much as You Can about the Prospective Employer’s Organizational Culture

before you accept the job offerYou’ve received an excellent and tempting job offer. You want to accept. All the terms look promising. But you don’t know as much as you want to about what it’s like to work for this employer. How to research?

To mitigate this dilemma before it becomes a dilemma, consider conducting informational interviews with targeted employers before ever approaching these organizations as a job-seeker. If you interview people at the same level at which you’d be working (as opposed to supervisors or subordinates), you’ll have a good idea what it’s like to be in that position.

In the job interview, you can enhance your familiarity with the culture by arriving early and observing how workers interact, what they wear, how personalized their workspaces are what amenities and perks employees enjoy, and lots more cultural clues. Ask questions in the interview that target the culture – for example questions about how decisions are made, how teams are formed, how employees are recognized, acknowledged, and supported, and so on. Ask about growth opportunities.

Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer about his or her personal experience with the company, especially a question like, “What do you love about working here?” Ask your interviewer how he or she would describe the organizational culture.

Reflect on the interview itself. Was the interviewer welcoming and professional or flustered and unprepared?

Writing for Fast Company, Jared Lindzon suggests some observable items that might not initially seem revelatory of company culture:

  • Sounds and tones of voice: Do people in this workplace sound excited or fearful and stressed?
  • Smells: If everyone is eating lunch at their desks, maybe the culture encompasses significant time pressure.
  • Restrooms: Their cleanliness and order – or lack thereof – may say something about the culture.
  • Length/pace of hiring process: A too-quick hire may indicate carelessness, while a complex and drawn-out process may signal difficulty with decision-making.

If you’ve missed opportunities to study the culture before receiving an offer, you can still research to help you decide whether to accept the offer.

Study the way the organization presents itself to the world. What is its mission? Its core values? Its reputation? Look up news reports on the organization. Sites like Glassdoor offer employee reviews of their employers.

Peruse company social-media profiles. Turn your prospective employer into a Twitter hashtag and learn what’s being said about the organization.

Check LinkedIn to see if any of your connections works at the organization; if so, ask what it’s like to work there. See below (click here) for questions you can ask that reveal the culture. Request to be connected with your prospective colleagues so you can ask them about culture. You might even consider asking if you can shadow the incumbent in the position or a similar position. Or as John Lees, author of How to Get a Job You Love, suggests, ask to “spend a few hours with your prospective team for a group meeting or brainstorming session.”

Consider seeking out customers and suppliers of the organization to ask about culture.

There’s also nothing wrong with calling the hiring manager and asking follow-up questions that target culture – or even requesting another sit-down meeting. Spend time getting to know the person you will be reporting to and learning his or her vision for the organization. This is a good time to ask about advancement and professional-development opportunities – and any other perk that may be beyond the scope of the initial offer.

Final Thoughts
Having performed your due-diligence, you must ultimately make a decision. No matter how much research you do, you have to go with your gut in the end. As Rebecca Knight writes in Harvard Business Review, “[Don’t] succumb to analysis paralysis. Trust your judgment and make a decision.”

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.
Give us a call at 386-749-3111
Send us an email at beverly@harveycareers.com
Schedule a call with Beverly at www.harveycareers.com/schedule


Culture-Revealing Questions to Ask People Who Work in Your Prospective Organization:

  • Why did you decide to work for this company?
  • What do you like most about this company?
  • How does your company differ from its competitors?
  • Why do customers choose this company?
  • What is the company’s relationship with its customers?
  • How optimistic are you about the company’s future and your future with the company?
  • Has the company made any recent changes to improve its business practices and profitability?
  • What does the company do to contribute to its employees’ professional development?
  • What systems are in place to enable employees to give management feedback and suggestions?
  • How does the company make use of technology for internal communication and outside marketing (e-mail, Internet, intranets, World Wide Web, videoconferencing, etc.)?
  • What other technologies are integral to the company’s operation?
  • How would you describe the atmosphere at the company? Is it fairly formal or more casual and informal?
  • Do people in your department function fairly autonomously, or do they require a lot of supervision and direction?
  • What are your co-workers like?
  • How would you describe the morale of people who work here?
  • Do you participate in many social activities with your co-workers?
  • Is there a basic philosophy of the company or organization? What is it? (Is it a people-, service-, or product-oriented business?)
  • What is the company’s mission statement?
  • What can you tell me about the corporate culture of this company?
  • Is the company’s management style executed from the top downward, or do frontline employees share in the decision-making?
  • Is there flexibility in work hours, vacation schedule, place of residence, telecommuting, etc.?
  • What’s the dress code here? Is it conservative or casual? Does the company have dress-down or casual days?
  • Can men wear beards or long hair here?
  • What work-related values are most highly esteemed in this company (security, high income, variety, independence)?
  • What kind of training program does the company offer? Is it highly structured or more informal?
  • Does the company encourage and/or pay for employees to pursue graduate degrees? Is there a tuition-reimbursement program?
  • Does the company offer an employee discount on the products it sells?
  • What’s the best thing about the company?
  • How does the company evaluate your job performance?
  • How does the company acknowledge outstanding accomplishments of its employees?
  • What kinds of accomplishments does the company reward?
  • Are there people within or outside the organization that the company holds up as heroes?
  • Does the company observe any rituals, traditions, or ceremonies?
  • What does the company do to foster innovation and creativity?
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Navigating a Job Search When You’re Employed

stealth mode job searchEspecially for executives, job search while employed is tricky. First, at the executive level, “passive” candidates, those NOT looking for a job, are far more valued than “active” candidates. And unfair as it is, the thinking goes that if you are looking for a job, something must be wrong with you.

It’s not as though you can hide the fact with prospective employers that you are in an active job search – but you don’t need to over-emphasize this fact either. It’s a huge plus that you are employed. Unemployed active candidates especially face bias.

The second tricky issue is that job-seeking executives risk discovery by their current employers. Thus a “stealth” job search is in order.

Clearly, careful planning is needed. Here’s where the efficiency of a targeted job search can be especially advantageous.

Ask yourself if it’s the organization or your immediate situation that you want to leave. Maybe the company is OK, but you don’t get along with your boss or don’t feel comfortable in your position. Is there an advantageous move you could make within your existing organization instead of totally uprooting yourself?

Always be “job-search ready.” Even before you have a need to seek a new job, be sure your resume and social-media profiles (especially LinkedIn) are up to date. In fact, as soon as you start a job, update these artifacts. That way, you won’t have to conduct a wholesale update that might get the attention of your colleagues and put the idea in their heads that you are job-searching.

Request discretion from prospective employers and your network contacts. Include in your cover letter a line about keeping your search discreet because your current employer is unaware of your plans. Similarly ask your network contacts to keep your search on the down-low. If you are working with recruiters, be clear that you are conducting a confidential search.

Focus on networking. Submitting resumes to job boards is not especially effective anyway, and doing so carries the risk you could inadvertently apply to your own employer or perhaps a colleague of your current boss who might feel inclined to spill the beans.

Writing for Forbes, job-search columnist Liz Ryan suggests networking for consulting gigs rather than a job: “Consulting part-time is a great way to get a new job,” Ryan writes, “because hiring managers can meet with consultants any time they want (they only need a higher-up’s approval to actually hire a consultant, and sometimes not even then) whereas most hiring managers won’t meet with a job-seeker unless they have a job opening.”

Informational interviewing is a form of networking that can be especially effective in a time-restricted situation. This technique enjoys the same advantage of Ryan’s consulting idea; hiring managers would probably turn you down if you requested a job interview out of the blue but are more open to those seeking information about a particular position or company.

Don’t risk discovery by using your current employer’s time and resources (phone, computer) for your search. Especially don’t participate in phone interviews from your current place of employment. Don’t use your company email address, for example. Be careful not to disparage your employer publicly or in job interviews. A hiring manager is likely to think, “If he/she trashes a former employer, he/she is likely to trash our company.” Continue to produce your best work, even though your heart may not be in your current job. Don’t ask your current supervisor or colleagues to serve as references.

Consider creative scheduling for interviews. Scheduling interviews is a challenge for the employed. Look at breakfast and lunch slots, as well as times at the end of the work day. Consider using personal-leave time.

Don’t give yourself away with what you wear. If expected interview attire is different from what you would normally wear to work, consider bringing your interview duds and changing into them offsite so you don’t stand out as an obvious job-seeker.

Be truthful if confronted by your employer. If you’re found out, you’ll only dig yourself in deeper if you lie. Graciously admit the truth.

Final Thoughts
A job search while employed requires some fancy footwork but can be finessed nicely with some careful planning.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.
Give us a call at 386-749-3111
Send us an email at beverly@harveycareers.com
Schedule a call with Beverly at www.harveycareers.com/schedule

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6 Tips for Successfully Responding to Brainteaser Interview Questions

Brainteaser questions require you to answer an unusual or abstract question and develop a suitable answer based on logic, analysis and hypothesis. They are used to assess your capability to solve a complex problem. In many cases, you are not expected to reach a correct answer. Rather, the recruiter is more interested in your methodology and creativity.

  1. Always Anticipate that a Brainteaser Question May Be Asked. Brainteasers are increasingly likely to be asked across the spectrum of disciplines. Just as you anticipate traditional screening questions, behavioral questions, and situational questions, you can add brainteasers to the list of questions to prepare for. It’s possible, however, to find out more about a company’s interview formats by asking members of your network who work at the organization what interviews are like or consulting Glassdoor, a job search engine that offers a repository of job-seeker-reported questions they’ve been asked by various employers. You can also visit the Brainteaser Interview Questions portion of Glassdoor.
  2. Keep in Mind Why Hiring Managers Ask these Questions. Experts note several traits employers are seeking when they ask brainteasers:

Logic. Hiring managers want to see that interviewees can develop a logical process for responding to brainteasers.
The ability to think on one’s feet. Because the real world of business often requires executives to make quick decisions in the face of unexpected situations or questions, many brainteaser questions mare designed to test this ability and are often timed, increasing the pressure.
Problem solving ability and level-headedness. Employers want to know that you can quickly analyze a problem and devise a solution.
Composure. Hiring managers sometimes ask brainteasers to see if the candidate will get flustered if unable to come up with the answer.

  1. Keep Your Cool. To prove that you’re a candidate who can fill this unique position, take your time and think the question through, then respond calmly. Often times there is not one perfectly correct answer. The purpose is to see someone’s thought process, their problem-solving abilities, and their reaction when faced with a question they don’t have the answer to.
  2. Think and calculate your answer out loud. This advice connects with the “logic” motivation for asking brainteaser questions. Be sure your interviewer knows your logical process by describing each step in your problem-solving approach. In the course of describing your process, you may even decide to switch directions, which is OK as long as the interviewer can follow your process.
  3. Ask for Clarification. Ask the interviewer questions about the brain teaser. An interview is a conversation between two people, not an exam, so you should not feel completely alone when answering these questions. However, do be prepared for the interviewer to say that he or she cannot give you a particular piece of information or assist you.
  4. Have a Response Planned in Case You Just Can’t Come Up with an Answer. As you try to develop your response, you may realize you will not come up with an answer in the allotted time. Identify the skills being tested by the question and explain that, while you don’t excel at brainteasers, employers have cited you for the skills targeted by the question. Perhaps even give an example of how you have demonstrated that skill.

The bottom line is that, while you will probably face brainteaser questions at some point in your job search, you need not be rattled by them. Remain calm and work through the process, demonstrating your relevant skills along the way.

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Finalizing Your Contact and Follow-up Strategy for Recruiters

Once you select your target recruiters, you must build a campaign to contact them. No one right way exists to contact recruiters; each is different, and each situation is different. Having the right materials, using the right methods, having the right expectations, and effectively maintaining the relationship are all important. Here are some basic tips from recruiters:

  • Have a perfect resume and cover letter. The resume and cover letter should be concise and crisp, allowing the recruiter to immediately grasp your profile and expertise.
  • Send your materials with care. Check with recruiting firms to verify if and how they want resumes sent. Call the receptionist or other gatekeeper or check websites. Marking materials as “personal and confidential” may be helpful. When e-mailing your resume, be aware that fear of viruses and unsolicited blasts from resume mills may cause recruiters not to even open unsolicited mail. Make your subject line personal, specific, credentialed, and targeted; for example, “Resume: John Smith, IT Executive, Excellent Candidate for CIO position,” will get you further than simply “Resume.” The same is true of file names for your resume. As you might imagine, recruiters get hundreds of resumes with the file name “Resume.doc.” Personalize your resume with a file name such as “JillKelly_CIO_Resume.doc.”
  • Use the phone or e-mail, but sparingly. Hounding recruiters is never appropriate, but a brief follow-up phone call or two may help direct attention to your resume and credentials. Recruiter opinions are divided on this issue. Consider a short introductory phone call or voicemail message after hours to advise that your resume has been sent, and perhaps another phone call two weeks later to ensure that the recruiter received, read, and filed it. Touch base with your recruiter with a simple, “Just to let you know I’m still looking,” after a month. For a less urgent search, it’s okay to call your recruiter every 4-6 months. E-mail is also an option; you can check in monthly by email with the recruiter, just so he or she will keep you top of mind and let him or her know you are still available.
  • Keep your information up to date. Federal employment laws require organizations (excluding very small recruiting firms with a headcount of less than 50) to maintain resumes and application for three years, so you should have few worries that yours will be tossed out. The resume may, of course, become out of date; thus, some recruiters recommend follow-up phone calls stating your desire to keep your information updated and correct. Resubmitting a resume is less important than reestablishing connection with a phone call or email to update the recruiter on your newest accomplishments. Recruiters are open to receiving an updated resume, as long as it truly reflects new information.
  • Don’t expect acknowledgment, and don’t take it personally if you don’t get it. Recruiters receive hundreds or thousands of resumes. No response simply means, in most cases, that no open position fits your qualifications.

Final Thoughts

With these tips in mind, your goal is to obtain an in-depth interview and to start a working relationship. Depending on their business model and situation, recruiters may or may not be interested in your resume; they may wish to search and contact you instead. Nevertheless, planning a recruiter-contact strategy, in which you target recruiters by identifying and contacting them to build a working relationship, is still a good idea.

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Criteria to Consider in Choosing Recruiters

Marketing segmentation, target audience, customers care, customer relationship management (CRM), customer analysis and focus group concepts.The final step before beginning to contact recruiters is to think through just what kind of recruiter is best suited for your position search. Here are some criteria to consider:

  • Retained vs. contingency. As a general rule, you will get more attention and assistance from contingency recruiters. The line between retained and contingency firms is becoming more blurred, as more firms are doing both. If you want “deep” consideration, exclusivity and confidentiality, contact retained recruiters. But don’t contact a retainer firm that your employer uses; such firms will not work with you. If you want broad reach, fast placement, and are willing to explore jobs that may not be a perfect fit, contingency firms may be your best bet.
  • Specialty vs. general, and boutique vs. large firms. If you’re looking for a firm with strong contacts in the industry or profession of your choice, a specialty firm is an obvious choice. But the flip side is that while specialists have excellent contacts in the industry, they are less likely to open new doors for you in other industries. Also keep in mind that many generalist firms actually operate like a department store of specialist or boutique firms. So, by working with a generalist, you may enjoy the advantages of specialization along with the broader set of possibilities that the generalist offers. Boutique firms will tend to get you better matches and work more closely with you to achieve your goals, but your credentials must be right to get their attention. Many recruiters recommend working with a mix of specialists and generalists.
  • Functional specialists vs. industry specialists. Is it better to work with a functional specialist–that is, a recruiter working with your profession (accounting, finance, marketing, IT, for example) or an industry specialist (aerospace, computers, food, financial services)? The conventional wisdom is that both dimensions are relevant, and working with all recruiting firms with which your credentials fit makes sense.
  • Individual recruiters vs. recruiting firms. As you look through recruiter-selection resources, such as online directories of recruiters, you may see recruiting firms and the names of individual recruiters within those firms. If you have the credentials and are looking for placement in the specialty–publishing or logistics, for example–contacting the individual may represent the wisest course. Keep in mind that while these special recruiters may look out for you and develop a personal relationship with you, you may never get into a database. If that specialty individual has no opening at the time, he or she may not bother to put you into the system for others in the firm. But to get a first chance at an available opportunity, you’re in better shape to go to the individual recruiter directly. If you’re trying to put yourself “on the shelf” for upcoming opportunities, you may be better off sending your material to the firm. Keep in mind also that the firm is always there–while individuals come and go.
  • Geography. Obviously if you have specific geographic preferences or objectives, dealing with recruiters in that area is the way to go. Working with recruiters in the particular locale of desired positions also makes sense. Technology executives or professionals would gravitate toward recruiters in Silicon Valley or other high-tech locales; aerospace professionals toward Seattle, Southern California, or certain Midwestern cities. A composite broad-and-narrow approach often works best. Some recruiters suggest contacting one recruiter in each region–that way you get broader coverage while maintaining an exclusive approach to working in each region. But keep in mind that most recruiters, though located in a region, work nationally. They have positions available from other regions.
  • Branch vs. central office. For large recruiting firms with branch offices, do you send resumes to each branch office or to a central headquarters location? Recruiters recommend sending to branch offices to get faster visibility with recruiters working actual positions. Those recruiters may not search central databases if they feel the right candidates are available locally. But the downside is that branch-office recruiters may not bother to put you in the central database. Again, a blended strategy may be best.
  • Recruiter professionalism. Obviously, you want to select recruiters with a high degree of respect and professionalism in the business, those who attract the best clients and positions and give minimal surprises. Although ascertaining professionalism, particularly of individuals, is difficult, membership in Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC) or International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruitment (IACPR) is a positive indicator. Word of mouth, previous placements, and time in the business all are factors. Once they establish contact, many candidates interview their recruiters to confirm this important criterion.

Ready to start searching? The i-recruit database (https://i-recruit.com/) is a tried-and-true resource.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.
Give us a call at 386-749-3111
Send us an email at beverly@harveycareers.com
Schedule a call with Beverly at www.harveycareers.com/schedule

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Developing a Strategy for Contacting Recruiters

email marketing

Once you’ve decided that it makes sense to contact recruiters, the next questions are …

  • how many?
  • which ones?
  • how to contact?

Today’s computer and Internet-aided tools accommodate 5,000-resume mass mailings, but focused, targeted searches are much more effective than resume “blasts.”

Some determining factors relate to you, your situation and objectives. Some relate to the recruiter landscape–how recruiters are structured and how they do business. In general, a recruiter-contact strategy consists of three parts:

  1. Identify. Identify which recruiters offer the greatest potential to work with you, based on your field, background, needs, and geographic location.|
  2. Contact. Contact selected recruiters by sending a resume and cover letter.
  3. Follow up. Keep in touch with most promising recruiters, nurture the working relationship.

Identifying Recruiters: How Many?

The decision to do a mass versus a targeted mailing depends in part on your situation and what you’re trying to accomplish. Combining a mass search with a targeted search can be highly effective. The targeted search–requiring networking and outreach to make contact and establish mutual interest before blasting off a resume–is much more time consuming but typically yields better results.

Sending out resumes broadly can generate competition and a sense of urgency among recruiters. But some recruiters say that it doesn’t take mass resume distribution to create competition: Using no more than three recruiters to help in a search can still create the sense of competition without getting you labeled as overexposed or high risk. Candidates who are loyal to a given recruiter will typically get that recruiter’s best efforts. Good qualifications will also generate competition and urgency. When a candidate’s resume reflects a solid work history and highly sought-after skills, any good recruiter should definitely have a sense of urgency to contact that particular candidate and begin to develop a plan to help them find their next position.

If your skills and credentials, level, or geographic preferences are specialized, your search, of course, will be narrower. Those in a niche industry will want to consider selectivity with recruiters. You want a recruiter who truly understands your needs from a career perspective as well as his or her clients’ needs. The more specialized a candidate is in his or her particular job, the more a specialized recruiter can help.

Most recruiters recommend a narrow search. Good recruiters will decline to work with a candidate who is shop-worn or over-represented. One recruiter advises candidates to “work with your own network and a maximum of 2-3 recruiters that you trust in your chosen industry. Working with many recruiters may saturate your candidacy in the marketplace. A strategic and calculated approach is the most efficient and successful method for securing your dream job in a timely expeditious fashion.

Whether you choose to search widely or narrowly, communication is key; if you deal with many recruiters, you must communicate with them about submittals and interviews. A candidate can make himself or herself look bad quickly if multiple recruiters are submitting them for positions and they are not communicating and controlling their own job search.

Generally, the following factors can influence the breadth of a search:

  • Confidentiality. The more you circulate your resume, the more your desire to look for a new job becomes known. Networks work, and the “buzz” spreads. Some recruiters are more careful than others about to which clients they send resumes. It happens–a candidate’s name shows up on a list at his or her own firm! Working with one recruiting firm closely and carefully is the best way to cover your tracks.
  • Urgency. If you need something to happen fast–either because of your personal situation or a situation at your employer–a broader search may yield faster results. If you anticipate a downturn in your company or your industry and want to hit the exit before others, casting a broad net probably won’t hurt. Recruiters also know about these downturns–and your early response shows your awareness of the situation and enhances your candidacy. However, even in launching a wide search, don’t waste time and energy with recruiters that specialize in industries that aren’t yours.
  • Active vs. passive. Activity relates both to urgency and confidentiality. If you wish to be active in your search, pursuing all possibilities, a wider search is the ticket. If you prefer a passive approach in which you simply wish recruiters to inform you of new opportunities when they come up, select one recruiter or perhaps a handful. A wide search may bring more interviews and discussions than you can handle while still functioning in a current position.
  • Your value in the market. Don’t commoditize yourself. Launching a broad campaign can make you appear as a commodity. The law of diminishing returns sets in; sending resumes to twice as many recruiters probably results in only 5 percent more interviews. Many recruiters recommend a more personal approach. You tend to appear more valuable if you position yourself as the one sought rather than the seeker, one who values the contact and relationship with a recruiter or limited set of recruiters, and one who wants only that special, coveted position.

Final Thoughts
Once you select your target recruiters, you must build a campaign to contact them. There is no one right way to contact recruiters; each is different, and each situation is different. Having the right materials, using the right methods, having the right expectations, and effectively maintaining the relationship are all important.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.
Give us a call at 386-749-3111
Send us an email at beverly@harveycareers.com
Schedule a call with Beverly at www.harveycareers.com/schedule

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Contacting and Following Up With Recruiters

following up with recruiters

Once you select your target recruiters, you must build a campaign to contact them. No one right way exists to contact recruiters; each is different, and each situation is different. Having the right materials, using the right methods, having the right expectations, and effectively maintaining the relationship are all important. Here are some basic tips from recruiters:

  • Have a perfect resume and cover letter. The resume and cover letter should be concise and crisp, allowing the recruiter to immediately grasp your profile and expertise.
  • Send your materials with care. Check with recruiting firms to verify if and how they want resumes sent. Call the receptionist or other gatekeeper or check websites. Marking materials as “personal and confidential” may be helpful. When e-mailing your resume, be aware that fear of viruses and unsolicited blasts from resume mills may cause recruiters not to even open unsolicited mail. Make your subject line personal, specific, credentialed, and targeted; for example, “Resume: John Smith, IT Executive, Excellent Candidate for CIO position,” will get you further than simply “Resume.” The same is true of file names for your resume. As you might imagine, recruiters get hundreds of resumes with the file name “Resume.doc.” Personalize your resume with a file name such as “JillKelly_CIO_Resume.doc.”
  • Use the phone or e-mail, but sparingly. Hounding recruiters is never appropriate, but a brief follow-up phone call or two may help direct attention to your resume and credentials. Recruiter opinions are divided on this issue. Consider a short introductory phone call or voicemail message after hours to advise that your resume has been sent, and perhaps another phone call two weeks later to ensure that the recruiter received, read, and filed it. Touch base with your recruiter with a simple, “Just to let you know I’m still looking,” after a month. For a less urgent search, it’s OK to call your recruiter every 4-6 months. E-mail is also an option; you can check in monthly by email with the recruiter, just so he or she will keep you top of mind and let him or her know you are still available.
  • Keep your information up-to-date. Federal employment laws require organizations (excluding very small recruiting firms with a headcount of less than 50) to maintain resumes and application for three years, so you should have few worries that yours will be tossed out. The resume may, of course, become out of date; thus, some recruiters recommend follow-up phone calls stating your desire to keep your information updated and correct. Resubmitting a resume is less important than reestablishing connection with a phone call or email to update the recruiter on your newest accomplishments. Recruiters are open to receiving an updated resume, as long as it truly reflects new information.
  • Don’t expect acknowledgment, and don’t take it personally if you don’t get it. Recruiters receive hundreds–thousands–of resumes. No response simply means, in most cases, that no open position fits your qualifications.

Final Thoughts

With these tips in mind, your goal is to obtain an in-depth interview and to start a working relationship. Depending on their business model and situation, recruiters may or may not be interested in your resume; they may wish to search and contact you instead. Nevertheless, planning a recruiter-contact strategy, in which you target recruiters by identifying and contacting them to build a working relationship, is still a good idea.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.
Give us a call at 386-749-3111
Send us an email at beverly@harveycareers.com
Schedule a call with Beverly at www.harveycareers.com/schedule

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How Do Recruiters Want To Deal With You?

How Do Recruiters Want To Deal With YouThe unique business model of the recruiting industry is that the client firm is the customer, and you, the candidate, are the product. The recruiter has a choice of “inventory” models regarding how to manage you as the product. A recruiter can “stock” you, that is, put you in inventory and wait for an order or a client position to open up. Recruiters work on growing their database, which is generally the first place that they look when a new search comes in.

An organized recruiter will run a search of their database to make sure they check all candidates on hand to see if any active or inactive candidates could be either a potential fit, or source for referrals. In the other business model, the recruiter can first receive the order, then go about acquiring you, the product, to fulfill that order. Referrals and their own network are the top priorities. In this model, the database is used only as a backup rather than first pass in a given search.

Whether or not to contact a recruiting firm depends significantly on which model it uses. Some firms may operate with a blend of both business models; that is, they use stock resumes along with an active search to get the best slate of candidates. As databases become more sophisticated and more up-to-date (driven in part by the availability of candidate information from the Internet), and as clients demand faster placements, stock resumes become more important in the search process.

Deciding to Contact a Recruiter – Factors to Consider

How do you know whether to contact a particular recruiter with your unsolicited resume? Some firms may offer a direct answer. Check the firm’s website; many recruiters post specifics on the materials they seek and how they prefer you to submit resumes. You can also call a receptionist or administrative person and ask if resumes are accepted and how they should be submitted. This gatekeeper might ask some questions about your credentials and the position you seek. Generally, avoid calling individual recruiting professionals directly; they don’t have the time, they don’t know who you are and, remember, their first interest is filling open positions for clients, not finding a job for you.

Beyond these two approaches, many questions about which recruiters to contact and how to approach them may remain unanswered, but you can increase the odds of getting answers by making an educated guess. Which recruiters will keep you “in stock” even if no current positions are available? In many situations, the recruiter benefits from holding you as inventory, even if that practice transcends the firm’s normal process. The following factors make recruiters more likely to keep you “on the shelf”:

  • Credentials. Your credentials are pristine and highly sought after. No recruiter would discard Jeff Bezos’s resume.
  • Position level and salary. You have “CEO,” “COO,” “VP” or something similar in your title, earn more than $200K a year, and work for a successful “marquee” name like Apple, McKesson, Berkshire Hathaway or General Motors. Your resume is less likely to be discarded (however, most high-level recruiters know who you are without seeing an unsolicited resume). Most retained and contingency firms would want to keep your resume on file. If your background and resume speak to excellence, most recruiters will want to see it, and many will keep it.
  • Job market. If the economy and employment market are booming, orders are abundant, and inventory is scarce. Thus, recruiters are more likely to “stock up” when the opportunity presents itself. Similarly, in a downturn, just when more candidates are available and sending resumes, recruiters are less likely to need them and keep them. More farsighted, long-term-oriented recruiters may keep them on file awaiting the upturn–particularly if the other factors are in your favor.
  • Job status. You’re unemployed. “Unemployed” is a red flag for a recruiter, possibly signifying “damaged goods.” Recruiters don’t want damaged goods in stock. If you’re unemployed–first of all, don’t be–do something useful even if for free. Secondly, make it clear that the reason for unemployment is systemic, that is, because of the economic situation of your company, and not because of you. If it is because of you, your situation is difficult, but don’t try to disguise it because most recruiters will figure it out. Explain your situation, and expect that many recruiters will decline to keep you on file. Many retained search firms will dismiss you right away because clients would dismiss you right off a final search panel.
  • Field. If you’re in a high-demand field with scarce human capital, you just might want to send that resume. Firms–particularly those that specialize in a field–like to carry inventory on scarce product available in that field.

A First Step

Identify, at least in your cover letter, where and for whom you work in your current organization. If your first few contacts with a recruiter seem to be only to gather referrals, don’t despair. You’re building a relationship–and you’re in the system.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.
Give us a call at 386-749-3111
Send us an email at beverly@harveycareers.com
Schedule a call with Beverly at www.harveycareers.com/schedule

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What To Do When the Executive-Search Consultant Calls You

 

When the Executive-Search Consultant Calls You

The phone rings at 4:30 in the afternoon, and it’s Tom Headhunter, dropping upon you a tempting position that’s a “must” career move. At the end of 10 minutes of talk, you know little of the position and nothing of Tom Headhunter. What do you do? How do you decide if this position–and this person–are worth doing business with?

It’s hard, because you don’t want to be taken for a ride into a vast unknown, risking your confidentiality and relationship with your current employer–and perhaps other executive-search consultants. Just the same, you don’t want to hastily turn Mr. Headhunter aside. You could gain some value in the position and the potential relationship. When these cold calls come in, most executive search consultants advise the following:

First Things First – Interview the Executive Search Consultant
Interviewing the executive-search consultant may sound like an odd way to turn the tables, but start with a few qualifying questions to the consultant before moving on. Find out:

  • Who the executive search consultant is/what firm he or she represents. An executive-search consultant should disclose his or her firm and whether it’s a contingency or retainer firm. Be skeptical if the consultant won’t disclose. Don’t necessarily expect him or her to identify the client hiring firm, however. While you may get that information from the consultant, you often won’t as he or she has been instructed not to divulge.
  • Background in field. Ask the recruiter how long he or she has been in the firm and industry, what types of placements and clients he or she handles. Specific names of client employers are better, but you may not get them. Just as the executive-search consultant will want to know more about you, you should know more about the headhunter before proceeding. Look for competence, professionalism, and experience in the field of specialty. Avoid the used-car salesman type who tries to pry you loose to nab a quick commission.
  • Learn the executive -search consultant’s process. Ask a few questions about how he or she conducts business.

Don’t Commit to Anything
Be careful not to go too far down the path in the first call. Yes, an executive-search consultant’s time is important, and if you’re talking to one of the industry top names on the phone, you could benefit if you keep going. Preferably, though, gather some information, start the relationship, and then step aside. “I’ll get back to you” is a good line to keep in mind.

What do you do before getting back to the executive-search consultant?

  • First, think through everything that was said. Does the position really sound like a fit for your experiences and objectives? Most people get excited, even emotional, at the prospect of an employer wanting them. Let this emotion subside and discern whether you really want to be wanted in this situation. At the risk of a tenuous analogy, think through your dating experiences.
  • Do your own research. Look up the recruiting firm online. Does the firm indeed specialize in your industry? Has it been around for a while, and is it a member of the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants or other accrediting organizations? Look at its Web site. What types of positions does it deal with? What type of clients, if it discloses? Does the site and its message convey a professional tone and manner, or is it sales-y?
  • Then, use your network. Talk to peers, colleagues, and executive search consultants if you know any. Talk to people outside your organization but in your industry. Have they heard of or dealt with the executive search consultant or his or her firm? Do your contacts know what kind of clients this executive search consultant typically works with?

After satisfying yourself with these answers, call the executive-search consultant back. Getting comfortable with the consultant may take you minutes or days, but doing so is important. Whether you initiate an executive-search consultant relationship this way or by contacting the consultant initially, the next step is to work with that executive -search consultant toward a productive and effective job placement.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.

Give us a call at 386-749-3111
Send us an email at beverly@harveycareers.com
Schedule a call with Beverly at www.harveycareers.com/schedule

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How to Be ‘Found’ by Executive-Search Consultants

Visibility in the corporate world can be tough to attain, but you need it if you want executive-search consultants to find you. A significant number of your achievements might be considered “company confidential” – you can’t simply write an article describing your formula for adding 10 percent to your company’s gross profit margin. But if you get your name out there professionally, executive-search consultants will find you. Here are some of the most effective ways to get both internal and external publicity:

Get Known Inside Your Company

How do you build your internal image? Achievement is probably the best way to become known, but you can’t hide your light under a bushel basket; you must promote your achievements.

  • Write articles. Most companies have internal communication vehicles, sometimes print publications, but increasingly intranets, blogs, e-mailed newsletters, and company Web pages highlighting accomplishments and individual achievements. Editors are always looking for good material.
  • Take on big projects. When your employer seeks someone to lead the worldwide customer-satisfaction program, take it on! Volunteering means hard work but also leads to visibility and an ever-more-rapid escalation of your stock among peers. Eventually people outside the organization will learn of your achievements, whether through networks or a more direct spotlight on what you’re doing.
  • Speak. Speaking disseminates your expertise outside the organization as well as inside. Build that traveling road show for your department, and take it around the world or to the sales force. Represent your group in important strategy-setting meetings or customer visits.
  • Hold conferences, webinars, and meetings. A great way to gain visibility and show leadership is to offer to host or hold meetings to resolve important issues or design major strategic breakthroughs. Most of the time, your colleagues or managers will appreciate your going above and beyond, and the reputation you’ll gain as leader, organizer, and solver will promote your brand.

And, Get Known to the World
Getting noticed means making yourself noticeable. Sounds like common sense, but many competent professionals sit around and wait for their break. Bad practice! If you get lucky or are particularly good, you might get noticed that way. Just as magazine and newspaper editors are always hungry for material, so too are meeting planners, seminar leaders, associations, and other venues eager for material and leadership. If you have something to offer, you’ll get the chance. Your contribution doesn’t have to be breakthrough rocket science. Sharing even small but differentiated successes–or even successfully applying an industry best practice–will often get you there. And in some venues, all you need to do is make the effort. Here are some of the ways to get external visibility:

  • Be active in industry or trade associations. Participate actively, or better yet, take leadership positions, in these organizations. Networking opportunities abound, and executive-search consultants read Web sites and printed material with your name on it. If you host meetings, find extraordinary speakers, speak yourself, edit or help with the newsletter, and go outside to find other excellence. Attend trade shows and organization events. Represent your company and staff your booth. Write papers, build knowledge and research.
  • Speak. Offer to speak at seminars. You usually won’t get paid, though the organization that invites you will likely pay for your travel. External publicity begets internal publicity. Word gets around that you presented at the industry conference. More importantly, from a recruiting standpoint, executive-search consultants, particularly specialists, know who is talking because they follow the industry. Seeing your name, they will attempt to learn more about you, and may even try to see you speak or meet you.
  • Write articles and be an expert source for the media. Writing articles produces much the same results as speaking. You get a chance to gel your thoughts and accomplishments into reader-friendly form, and your name and accomplishments get out there for the world–and executive-search consultants–to see. Get quoted by offering your thoughts, ideas, and opinions to journalists and reporters. Offer yourself as an expert to the media. Let local, regional–and even national–media editors know you’re willing to be interviewed and quoted on topics on which you’re an authority.
  • Be active in your community. Volunteer work, civic service, and community activity provide evidence of leadership and effort beyond the normal course of duty, not to mention good opportunities for networking. Getting involved in local government, civic organizations, arts communities, charities, and the like can be well worth your time as you build your brand with executive-search consultants.
  • Offer your services to the higher-education community. Make yourself available as a guest lecturer for clubs, organizations, and classes at local colleges and universities. Colleges embrace real-world business experience in the classroom, even from those lacking advanced degrees. Institutions of higher learning usually publicize guest presentations.
  • Serve on advisory boards and boards of directors. Jump at invitations to join and participate on a corporate or nonprofit board, either in a decision-making or advisory capacity.

Online Presence
A branded online presence is vitally important. Here are a few ways to cultivate a presence:

  • Establish a profile on a few key social-media sites, especially LinkedIn.
  • Post and comment on key sites ¬– LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Show yourself to be a thought-leader.
  • Consider constructing a professional Web site with a portfolio in which you can publish all your articles, speeches, and more. Buy a Web domain with your name as its centerpiece: SallySanderson.com, for example. You can also hire a Web designer to build your site.
  • Start (and regularly maintain) a blog and comment on the blogs of others.

Final Thoughts
Essentially, you are in charge of MARKETING yourself, and getting noticed means doing some good marketing. Bottom line–you must build yourself as a brand through positioning yourself well and creating visibility. In doing so, you’ll not only get on the radar screen, but you’ll get there with a strong, clear image that is compelling to the executive-search consultant–and client employers.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.

Give us a call at 386-749-3111
Send us an email at beverly@harveycareers.com
Schedule a call with Beverly at www.harveycareers.com/schedule

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