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Monday, February 26, 2007
Telecommuting as a Resume Benefit
Everyone wants to work from home these days and with technology being what it is, it is very possible for many to work from home offices with only a couple of days “in the office” a week. Work from home is a big draw to employees and companies who offer that opportunity are in demand. Of course, there are always the “work from home” scammers but I’m referring to real companies that provide their employees the opportunity to work from home offices. More and more companies see the benefits of telecommuting both to productivity and to overhead costs.

We work with many clients who note they would like a telecommuting opportunity and we work with many more who actually do work from a home office. Often these clients are in positions that require a great deal of travel such as sales or project management, but sometimes they are more core business positions such as accounting. Everyone wants to know how to find these jobs but the easiest way to find a telecommuting job is to have already proven you can work productively from home.

Have you thought about making the fact that you work from home an asset that is highlighted on your resume and in your cover letter? Savings realized by telecommuting can add up to thousands for the company per employee. If you can bring experience working from home that shows you can do so successfully, it could be a deciding factor in interviewing.

It’s scary for companies to find employees for a telecommuting position. Most of the time, they are filled from within because the company already has an idea how the employee works unsupervised and self-guided. Hiring a new employee where telecommuting could be an option is risky. By showing that you have been a successful telecommuter in the past and produced well for your employers in a telecommuting situation, you take some of that risk away.

It’s also important to evaluate your work habits objectively before accepting a telecommuting position. I personally know someone who works from home who really struggles to keep to a schedule, stay organized, stay focused, and work productively. She usually rushes at the last minute to meet deadlines because she hasn’t been able to use her time wisely in her home office. Working from home is not for everyone and should not be considered as an option for everyone. Companies know that and if you can show you have been successful working from home in the past, you are more likely to find a similar telecommuting position in the future.

Friday, February 23, 2007
When in Doubt – Ask!
Is your resume working for you? Are you getting a good stream of first interviews? Great! Now, for the next question—are you getting second interviews? Many job candidates will go through a first interview (usually a telephone interview) and be left with the impression that they are going to be handed on up the ladder for a second interview. The telephone interviewer said all the right things, was positive about your background, and said you had the qualifications they were seeking. You are now all excited because it looks promising.

A week passes. Nothing happens. Ten days – still no word. What do you do? Hopefully, you are following up with the person who called you. You DID get that person’s name, email, and telephone number, right? Get in touch and follow up to find out where they are in the hiring process. The hiring process is really a Crock Pot issue but most job seekers want it to be a microwave affair. It takes a lot longer than you think to hire a qualified candidate, especially someone at the executive level.

The same goes for recruiters. In over thirteen years in business, I’ve never heard a recruiter tell a job seeker anything OTHER than “You have a great background” after receiving the resume. It’s akin to “Would you like fries with that?” It has no true intent behind it so don’t take it that way. Some recruiters even say they are going to forward your resume on to an employer but then drop off the face of the earth. If a recruiter has promised to pass on the resume to an employer, stay in contact with that recruiter. You’ll know soon enough if he was fibbing just to make you feel good.

Okay, let’s say you make it through to an in-person interview and that goes well. You are told you are a contender. What do you do then? Same thing – you stay in touch with the person with whom you interviewed. If you are told you didn’t make the cut, ask some questions:

What part of my experience did not fit your requirements?
Do you have any suggestions on how I can improve my candidacy for other prospective employers?
Was there anyway I could improve my personal presentation?
Can you tell me where I’m weak in either my experience or education?
Was there a particular skill set that you were seeking that I did not have?

All these questions are non-threatening, informational questions. Hiring managers usually won’t mind answering these types of questions, especially if you made a connection in the interviewing process with them. They realize you want to improve and they can provide feedback to help you. People like to help other people.

If you are working through a recruiter, feel free to ask him/her these questions after an interview that didn’t morph into a position. The recruiter only gets paid if he can place you. If you are messing up in an interview or don’t have a particular skill, he helps himself by helping you correct yourself or your approach.
Ask questions. The interviewing process is not an interrogation process. You get to participate!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007
An Equal-Opportunity, Self-Imposed Glass Ceiling
Everyone has heard of the term “glass ceiling” originally coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe the hiring/promotion discrimination against women in corporate America. With the notoriety of the term, companies started paying more attention to their promotion and hiring practices where women and minorities were concerned. While most would agree that the glass ceiling still exists to some extent, things have improved.

To be honest, I haven’t thought of this issue in some time because I’m an entrepreneur and believe that there is no ceiling; how far up I go depends solely on me. Not everyone is an entrepreneur, though, so I occasionally get reports from clients that they feel their _________ (age, gender, race – you fill in the blank) is causing them to hit a glass ceiling or at least making the next step on the career ladder almost impossible.

The most common worry we see as far as hiring discrimination is the fear of age discrimination. As the Boomers start to near retirement age, they are often concerned that they will be seen as people looking for a “smooth landing place” for a job that will ease them into retirement or that employers won’t hire them because they are above a certain age. For the most part, this is a myth. Employers are seeking experience, something the Baby Boomer generation has in abundance.

A dynamic, do-it-our-way generation to begin with, the Baby Boomers are simply looking for more challenge. Many have imposed their own glass ceiling. They have accomplished what they want and now they are seeking something “fun” to do or something that will contribute to society. Often that means a lateral career move or even a step backward. Some are changing career fields entirely in order to pursue something other than money, prestige and standing while they still have the drive and energy to do so.

Another self-imposed glass ceiling I’ve seen on a couple of occasions lately is education related. Many otherwise highly qualified job seekers feel they get passed over in hiring or promotion due to a lack of a certain degree or educational level. I am the first one to encourage education but I believe there is a large gap between education and knowledge. Smart employers hire knowledge and promote wisdom while short-sighted employers predicate all hiring on having a certain degree for executive level jobs. Knowledge is always more important than education.

Are you imposing a glass ceiling on your career by not going after a secondary degree? In certain industries, yes. Finance and banking tend to promote only if that MBA has been achieved. That doesn’t hold true so much in other industries. I talked to a job seeker last week who was the manager of a mine in South America (American expatriate). He had spent 25 years in mining and had worked his way up to the top job. Now he was concerned that because he never attained his undergraduate degree, he would not have a chance to advance further in his industry. I started thinking “What school teaches what he now knows after 25 years working in nearly every position in mining? There is no such school.” I didn’t see how a degree would make any difference in his career. That’s the difference between knowledge and education.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that only 20% of college graduates actually work in the field of their major after graduation. What does that tell us about the disconnect between education and knowledge?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Education vs. Knowledge
Two of the most common concerns that we see among our executives clients are the fear of age discrimination and the fear of not having a degree. Both concerns, while legitimate to some degree are given more weight than they deserve in the effects these two issues actually have on job search.

Today, I want to look at degrees – both the importance of them and the impact of lack of them. We see clients from both ends of the spectrum where this issue is concerned. We work with senior researchers who have more than one PhD to their names and then we work with C-level executives who never finished college. And we work with clients who are everywhere in between in terms of education.

For many years of the past century, especially in the first six decades, the most common goal of education was a high school diploma. If you graduated high school, you were pretty well assured of being able to attain a job that would support the average middle-class lifestyle. As the twentieth century came to a close, that had changed significantly. Now, most people consider a four-year degree to be the lowest bar needed to achieve the average middle class lifestyle.

Institutes of higher learning have really “sold” the value of an MBA over the past twenty years, so much to the point that now an MBA doesn’t hold a lot of weight because it is a common degree. There have been several studies that indicate that the money spent on an MBA is not always recouped in higher wages. (Equate it over-improving your house for the neighborhood—you may not get your investment back.)

My question is – can you be highly educated but have little knowledge. I think the answer to that is a resounding yes. Knowledge comes from study but it also comes from experience and between the two, experience wins the battle. Think about your own experience in college. How much of what you learned do you actually use now? Remember that ballroom dancing class you had to take for a PE credit? How about that college algebra class?

Success is not predicated on a college degree. We have plenty of highly successful entrepreneurs to prove that correct – Michael Dell, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs to name three. At the senior executive level, there is a higher percentage of people who have earned their degree at the School of Hard Knocks which is harder to obtain and more expensive that a Harvard degree. No real college teaches the lessons learned at good old SHK. Those lessons, or that knowledge, if you will, can only be taught by life – experience.

Companies that are seeking senior executives are going to be looking at experience. They want to hire a leader who has been in the trenches and won’t be blown about by the winds of the business world. They want someone who has the T-shirt and knows the answers before the questions are asked. They are not going to find that knowledge in an educated twenty- or thirty-something who has very little real world experience.

Does that mean you won’t get an edge if you have a degree? No. Having the experience and the degree may very well give you an edge but again the employer is going to be looking at the whole package. If you have the experience, the great track record, and are the right fit, not having that degree will probably not eliminate you from the running.

Want a great book to read while you are snowed in over the next couple of weeks? I highly recommend “The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy” by Thomas J. Stanley and William D Danko. (Both have PhD’s by the way). You will be amazed at who the rich people REALLY are and how they got there!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Delay Can Be Deadly
We all delay expenditures to fit our budget. Sometimes we are saving up for something special like a vacation or sometimes unexpected things happen that make us rearrange our monthly budget plans. Unfortunately, sometimes when we delay investing in something, the final expenditure is higher than the original cost.

For example, a friend of mine recently purchased a used car (I think they are now called pre-owned). He had the opportunity to purchase a bumper-to-bumper, three-year warranty on the vehicle for $500 and have it meshed into the total payment but he opted not to do so. Three months later, the fuel pump bit the dust and the repair cost him $725. That $500 warranty looked pretty good in hindsight.

Occasionally, we will have a job seeker who views a professionally developed resume in the same light. Shelling out several hundred dollars for a resume may not “compute” in his mind. These individuals have a very short-sighted view and often come back to us several months after we first discussed a resume with them to go ahead and have the resume developed. What they didn’t “compute” at the beginning was the loss they risked by NOT investing in their career.

Let’s look at some numbers. Let’s say a person is making $100,000 a year. That computes roughly to a gross of $50/hour. In one 40-hour week, gross salary would be approximately $2000. Now, let’s say this person is targeting a job at the $125,000 mark. That computes to about $62.50 an hour or $2500 a week. If this person’s job search takes 12 weeks instead of four, he has lost $4000 in potential earnings. That’s $4K that could have gone in his pocket simply by using a more effective resume that won interviews more quickly and more effectively than a poor, self-written resume.

Keep in mind that we are only talking base salary in this scenario and not benefits, commissions, or stock options. We also are not considering cash flow issues that occur when a downsizing has occurred. What was $4K in potential lost earnings for the job seeker looking to make a step up the career ladder skyrockets to $30,000 when there is zero income for someone who has been laid off. Of course, being out of work is the worst time to have to invest in a professional resume so we always recommend having a resume ready and up-to-date. Think of it as a will for your career – you don’t want to be caught without one.

Makes that few hundred dollars spent on the resume look rather paltry, doesn’t it.

Saturday, February 03, 2007
Could Your Spam Filter Be Sabotaging Your Job Search?
Here at GetInterviews, we send out a lot of emails and I mean a LOT. We don’t have a subscription list for a newsletter or anything, but 99% of our business is completed via email from initial contact to final delivery. We are not spammers and never send out bulk emails in big batches. In fact, we don’t send out bulk email at all. Everything that goes out through our server is what I might refer to as “person to person” rather than “person to masses”.

Over the past few months, our battle with spam filters has grown more heated. A good estimate is that approximately 20% of our emails get “eaten” by spam filters of the big commercial services such as Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, and Earthlink. We have job seekers who request a free resume critique to whom we respond -- only they never receive our response. Often we try responding multiple times with no luck getting through. That leaves the job seeker thinking we are unresponsive and us feeling extremely frustrated.

Keep in mind that we are in a service business so we go the extra mile to reach customers and provide them with the information they need for a successful job search. Recruiters and hiring managers, on the other hand, are not so considerate nor do they care. If they send an email to you (most respond first by email) and they do not receive a response, they just move on to the next candidate. They don’t waste the time to chase down job candidates when they have 200 other resumes of qualified candidates before them.

The large commercial email providers such as I mentioned above have proven to be the most vicious in their spam filtering according to our experience. Earthlink has even added a second step where the sender has to log in online and tell what the email is about so it can be approved. This narrow opportunity expires very quickly so if the sender doesn’t respond almost immediately, the original email is tossed out. That can be tough if you send out an email at 4:49 on a Friday and don’t get back to your computer until Monday morning at 8:00. You have to start the process all over!

When you are starting a job search, consider NOT using one of the free email services just because of the potential for multiple missed job opportunities. If you have high speed service through a provider such as Comcast, Hughes, Time Warner, or your telephone provider, you probably have the ability to have multiple email addresses on your account. Set up an email on that service just for your job search purposes rather than going the freebie route. Sure, you are going to get spam but you are going to get spam anyway, no matter what kind of email service you are using. What is less likely to happen is that real, important messages WILL NOT be filtered out, and thus you won’t miss the opportunities you are seeking in the first place.

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