Employers you need to give a damn!

Employers give a damnI recently had the experience where I applied for a few interesting casual roles to supplement my work as a career coach.  I followed my usual advice of tailoring cover letters and resumes to ‘fit’ the roles and for one role actually called the person mentioned in the advertisement three times (twice leaving a brief voicemail) and sending a LinkedIn inMail with no response. A month has gone by and I can assume that their silence and lack of response means they are not interested in my candidature (despite being a good fit for what they were after).

Outside of my own personal experience with ‘rejection by silence’ I literally hear the same thing from my clients most days of the week.  They apply for a job, call a contact or follow up with someone only to be met with the sounds of silence. My usual advice is that ‘this is part of the frustrations of job search’ and that ‘during job search you develop a thick skin’…But should it be so? Absolutely not!

I’m not between jobs but yet I was still taken aback at the lack of professionalism and basic human courtesy to respond to my applications. I had taken the time and effort to express interest in their organisations, so surely there should be some reciprocation? Rather, there was a conscious decision to ignore me and others who apparently did not meet their requirements. Even more so as someone who’s unemployed, putting myself ‘out there’ to say ‘Mr Employer, you and your role sound really interesting and I have some great skills that I believe could be of use to you.  Here are my details and I look forward to hearing back.’ Silence, nothing, nada, zippo, cue the sounds of crickets chirping in the background…‘Rejection by silence’.  What you are saying, even if not intentional, is that you don’t recognise me or my background…I am knocking on your door and you ignore me. Can I ask  that if a potential customer reached out to you, would you also ignore them? Of course not and I may well be a potential customer one day! Based on one less than satisfactory experience with you, it’s understandable that I may take my business elsewhere.

Let’s call a spade a spade…Lack of response to job applicants is a poor reflection of you and your organisation and if you don’t have a system to manage unsuccessful job applicants appropriately, you should.

I would argue that it does not take much effort to return a phone call or to generate some sort of form email, automated response or text message that is sent to unsuccessful candidates. Yes, we’ll be disappointed we missed out on your job, but at least we’ve been told where we stand and can focus on other opportunities. In fact, such a response would be a novelty and would serve you and your organisational brand well. I knocked on your door, you answered, explained politely you were not interested and I continued down the street…Thank you!

Practically I get that corporate types are busy and time poor. I was one for 27 years.  I also recognise that many of these folks simply see job applicants as ‘strangers’ or one more resume on the pile.  What I reflect on though is that many of us charged with hiring staff have been through job loss and understand the heightened emotions experienced during this time. You would think this would be leverage enough to ensure the same sins are not repeated? Apparently not. To be blithely ignored despite our best efforts to make contact with someone during job search can be soul-destroying if it happens often enough.

So, Mr and Mrs Employer, give a damn to those of us applying to your fine organisations!  Let us know when we have failed to ‘make the cut’ in a timely manner but even better, let us know you’d like to meet us for an interview. We’d be happy to chat…

Have you had this experience during job search? I’d love to hear about it.

For any help with job search, see my website at www.thecareermedic.com or contact me directly by clicking here.  You may also be interested in my book, ‘Fired to Hired, The Guide to Effective Job Search for the Over 40s’ which was recently published and is full of practical, no-nonsense job search tips for mature workers.  You can purchase the book from this link  or directly from Amazon or Booktopia among others.

The Career Medic – Taking the worry out of job search for the over 40s

 

New year’s resolutions and job search

 

New years resolution

“The new year stands before us like a chapter in a book waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.” (Melody Beattie, Author)

What are your new year’s resolutions as we rapidly approach 2016 and farewell 2015?

 

The origins of new year’s resolutions goes back to Roman times, where the first month of the new year – January – is named after Janus, the two-faced god who looked backwards to the old year and forward to the new year.  It was during this time over 2,000 years ago that new year’s resolutions began. Resolutions were more of a moral flavour, such as being good to others (For more information see billpetro.com).

According to a survey done by Sydney radio station 2DayFM in recent years, the top 10 new year’s resolutions are:

  1. Spend more time with family
  2. Fall in love
  3. Help others with their dreams (which goes to show not much has changed in 2,000 years!)
  4. Quit smoking
  5. Learn something exciting
  6. Stay fit and healthy
  7. Enjoy life to the fullest
  8. Spend less and save more
  9. Become more organised
  10. Lose weight.

Most if not all of these resolutions can be impacted by a successful job search. Looking for a role with work-life balance allows us to spend more time with family and loved ones; leading and inspiring others may help others to achieve their (professional) dreams; not being able to smoke at work keeps us healthier; learning new skills and having a higher salary to save more complement each of these resolutions!  What’s more, in a recent Google survey, 18% of people met their significant other at work, so you can even enhance your chances of falling in love in 2016!

If you are between jobs or thinking about changing jobs, then the new year is a time when such thoughts are brought even more into focus.  Like Janus, we put the old year behind us and look to the new year as a fresh beginning…

If you are working, you need to think about ‘why’ you want to change.  What’s not working out in your current role or company?  All of us need to think about exactly ‘what’ it is we’d like to do.  To do this, think about the skills you have (and perhaps skills gaps that need to be filled); what you like doing (e.g. Project work, technology, managing) as well as your values and how they relate to the organisation (and manager) you’d like to work for.  For example, if lifestyle is a key value, you should look for an organisation and role that avoids excessive travel or working lots of overtime.  In short, think about what you can do, what you like doing and your values when deciding on your next role.  Of course, this takes some time and effort and like any new year’s resolution requires a first – and most important – step…It may be as simple as taking time to focus on what you’d like to do, updating your resume, reconnecting with your network or even engaging a career coach to help…

Is 2016 going to be a repeat of 2015 or a new beginning on many fronts including work?  It’s entirely up to you.  In the same survey conducted by 2DayFM, they found that 48% of Australians make new year’s resolutions, but only 6% are successful in achieving them…Not a particularly good strike rate!  To improve the odds of success – and as suggested by Beattie earlier – write down your goals (resolutions) with associated timelines (e.g. Update resume by 31 January) and put them somewhere visible so that you can keep track of progress.  At work we are driven by our KPIs and objectives, so why can’t we apply the same rigour to our own personal and professional planning?

Good luck with your resolutions for 2016!

For any help with job search, see my website at www.thecareermedic.com or contact me directly by clicking here.  You may also be interested in my book, ‘Fired to Hired, The Guide to Effective Job Search for the Over 40s’ which was recently published and is full of practical, no-nonsense job search tips for mature workers.  You can purchase the book from this link  or directly from Amazon or Booktopia among others.

The Career Medic – Taking the worry out of job search for the over 40s

Is it wrong to enjoy the holiday season while unemployed?

I posted this article about a year ago and I think the advice is relevant again as the holiday season commences in Australia…

Sad puppyIs it wrong to enjoy the holiday season over Christmas and New Year while unemployed?  Short answer? No!

However, many of us who have gone through job loss – and subsequent search – very often feel guilty if we are not searching for jobs 24/7 even over the ‘quieter’ Christmas and New Year period.

What makes it worse is that we tend to project by saying things like ‘If I don’t have a job by Christmas it may be March or April at the very earliest before I can start work!’ This can be very distracting and demotivating and it constantly plays on our minds even when we should be having some down time and enjoying this wonderful time of year.

My advice – as someone who has been in transition (unemployed) over 2 summer vacations – is to:

  1. Take a break and stop to ‘smell the roses‘ – It is holiday season after all. The sun is shining (well, some of the time) and the kids are on school holidays (again). When you get another job – and you will get another job – you may not have the luxury of such a break again. Therefore, enjoy the time for what it is…Time off.
  2. Do some networking – The summer break runs for around 6-8 weeks and during this time, people who are working are in and out of the office but usually don’t take more than 2-3 weeks leave in one period. People take leave and come back and then others go and return. Logically, most businesses are quieter over this time and in fact some even close down for a mandatory period. This means that if people are in the office they are generally more ‘available’ for networking meetings, are also more relaxed and are likely able to give you more time as well.
  3. Keep busy – Give yourself some projects around the home or things you can do with your family such as day trips or other economical activities. When you are busy, you achieve things (and it’s always nice to tick things off the proverbial list and to feel a sense of accomplishment).

By continuing to network over the summer break, you keep busy in job search and are building a platform for the new year when others who only focus on the visible job market (on-line ads and recruiters) are downing tools, thinking that ‘no jobs are available over Christmas and the New Year.’ You will start 2016 with considerable momentum in your job search and it will ultimately pay dividends.

The guilt aspect of enjoying some time off is ameliorated because you are still busy, albeit in different ways. Having to prepare for, conduct and follow up on networking meetings keeps you busy and on your game, not to mention potentially leading to an introduction or referral that could result in that next great role…

So, by all means enjoy the break and make the most of down time with friends and family, but also be sure to meet with, talk with, engage with…network with others. Wishing you all a safe and happy festive season and new year!

For any help with job search, see my website at www.thecareermedic.com or contact me directly by clicking here.  You may also be interested in my book, ‘Fired to Hired, The Guide to Effective Job Search for the Over 40s’ which was recently published and is full of practical, no-nonsense job search tips for the over 40s.  You can purchase the book from this link  or directly from Amazon or Booktopia among others.

The Career Medic – Taking the worry out of job search for the over 40s

Reference checks that work

The following is an excerpt from my new book, ‘Fired to Hired, The Guide to Effective Job Search for the Over 40s’ which is currently available on Amazon, Booktopia and Fishpond among others.  ‘Fired to Hired’ is an easy-to-read, no-nonsense and practical guide to job search, written by someone who understands job loss and subsequent search.

Post-interview reference checks (Chapter 19, pages 160 – 162)

Reference checks are designed to provide interviewers with additional information about the candidate in order to make a hiring decision. Most references these days are obtained over the phone; however, it’s not uncommon for organisations to conduct reference checks via email where the referee is interstate or overseas in a different, and inconvenient, time zone.

As a rule of thumb, the best referees are individuals you have worked with or known within the last five to eight years. Currency of information is critical in evaluating candidates. Referees usually come from the following categories:

  • Managers you have worked for
  • Stakeholders within the business you have worked with or supported
  • Employees who have worked for you
  • Vendors, suppliers or customers outside the company you have had dealings with (especially if your job entails significant liaison with such groups)

It’s very important to note that you should ask for your referees’ permission to use them as referees at the beginning of your job search. You can lock them in later when you need their assistance for a specific reference check, but be sure to contact your referees before the recruiter or hiring organisation contacts them. Once you have established that a referee will speak on your behalf, ask them to let you know when the reference check occurs.

Given the opportunity to act as referees, some people like to string you along a little when providing feedback, but saying something like ‘I told them what a ratbag you are and not to employ you in a million years’ is not at all helpful. Once they are over channeling their inner comedian, hopefully they will give you a quick rundown on the questions asked, and any particular intelligence or feedback they gathered from the discussion.

While rare, during my early HR days I did have a couple of instances where the referee was surprised by my call and had not been approached by the candidate to act as a referee on their behalf. Needless to say, such oversights don’t reflect well on the candidate and any inference can only be negative. When you do contact your referees, take the time to tell them about the role you have applied for. This will give them the context they need when the hiring organisation contacts them.

Ensure your referee shares some key information or points you would like them to convey. If the job you have applied for has a high requirement for effective stakeholder management, make sure your referee mentions this in the reference check and perhaps details a specific situation where you did well. There might not be a specific question on this topic, but there could be a catchall question at the end of the reference check asking if there is anything else they would like to mention about the applicant’s suitability for the role. If you have prepared your referee well, this will assure the hiring company that they have covered everything, they will volunteer further information that could be enough to get you across the line when it comes to comparing candidates and deciding who gets the job.

When organisations ask for referees, they don’t usually specify who they would like to speak to, but will generally ask for someone you’ve worked for, which means that you can offer referees on your terms. If you’ve worked for someone that you don’t feel would represent your interests in applying for another job appropriately, don’t put their name forward. Most people have experienced working for someone with a manager’s title who may not provide a ringing endorsement of their professional background. You want to put forward someone who will speak highly of you in relation to the job you are applying for, and confirm that you’re a good match for the required skills, knowledge and experience.

Thanks for reading about reference checks!  If you liked this information, there are many more tips and hints on effective job search for mature job seekers in the book.

The Career Medic – Taking the worry out of job search for the over 40s

www.thecareermedic.com

Answering the ‘What are your salary expectations?’ question

The following is an excerpt from my new book, ‘Fired to Hired, The Guide to Effective Job Search for the Over 40s’ which is currently available on Amazon Kindle and will be available in hard copy from the 15th September 2015 on Amazon, Book Depository, Booktopia and Fishpond among others.

If you want an easy-to-read, no-nonsense and practical guide to job search, written by someone who understands job loss and search, this book is for you. Enjoy!

What are your salary expectations (Chapter 14: The Interview #3 Standard Questions and Responses

What are you earning/did you earn in your last job? While the inclination is to add a few thousand dollars onto your pay to get a bigger increase when joining, your best bet is to be honest. In the (unlikely) event you are found out, the employer will understandably be questioning the honesty of all your other responses and, worst-case scenario, could even terminate your employment.

What are your salary expectations? Always give an indication of what your salary expectations are, even if only asked about your last salary. Why? Because what you were earning at your last company may not be the best indicator of your worth.

Fundamentally, the market—or what most companies pay for a role in a particular industry—determines what you are worth.

If you were working for a company that paid low in the salary range and you ask for what you were earning there, you would be doing yourself a disservice. Instead, while in transition you have the opportunity to review job adverts, visit recruiters, study online salary surveys (generally produced by recruiters), network and interview with other organisations, and as a result have the information you need to determine your true worth.

You could respond to this question by saying something like, ‘Given that I’ve been in job search mode for several weeks/months now, I’ve had the opportunity to research the market via job ads, recruiters, salary surveys and other means, and on that basis I’m looking for a salary of approximately [fill in the blank], exclusive of superannuation.’

Thanks for reading about resume-reading software!  If you liked this information, you can receive many more tips and hints on effective job search for mature job seekers by purchasing the eBook on Amazon by clicking here.

The Career Medic – Taking the worry out of job search for the over 40s

www.thecareermedic.com

What you need to know about resume-reading software

The following is an excerpt from my new book, ‘Fired to Hired, The Guide to Effective Job Search for the Over 40s’ which is currently available on Amazon Kindle and will be available in hard copy from the 15th September 2015 on Amazon, Book Depository, Booktopia and Fishpond among others.  If you want an easy-to-read, no-nonsense and practical guide to job search, written by someone who understands job loss and search, this book is for you. Enjoy!

 

Dr Smith‘Unhand me, you mechanical moron.’
—Dr Zachary Smith, Lost in Space

It’s becoming increasingly common for organisations to use what is known as applicant tracking software (also known as talent recruitment systems) to receive, analyse and sort resumes submitted for roles advertised online, which, according to latest statistics, is about ninety percent of advertised roles. Some of the more common ATS providers include Bullhorn, Zoho Recruit and Taleo.

Understandably, when an organisation receives hundreds, or even thousands, of applications for roles, it can be tedious to screen, let alone read, all their resumes. ATS automates the process and replaces the human screen with a software program. In many respects this is not a bad thing as it increases the objectivity of the screening process. Plus, the software can work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

ATS looks for keywords in the submitted resume in order to match the candidate to the relevant role, generally eliminating about seventy-five percent of candidates during the first cull. Keywords can even include the names of schools or universities attended, previous employers that are deemed attractive, and of course the skills and experience required by the hiring organisation.

The use of ATS is largely limited to large recruiters and businesses; however, cloud-based systems are becoming more affordable for small and medium-sized businesses. In Australia, companies using ATS include IGA, Oracle (which produces the Taleo system), Chandler McLeod, Miele, Sydney Water, Kelly Services and Mitsubishi.

If you apply for a role on a company website and are required to fill in your details as well as uploading, and copying and pasting your resume, there’s a good chance you’re going into an ATS. Often this process can be frustratingly long and tedious; however, if you really want the job that should give you enough incentive to get through it.

So, how can you create a resume that can be read by a robot? The best way to get an ATS to notice your resume is to anticipate the keywords or phrases the system will be trying to find for the role. This further reinforces your need to ensure that your resume is adapted to, or relevant for, the role you’re interested in. If you don’t tailor your resume in this way, there’s a very good chance it won’t be attractive to the ATS and will be among the many resumes culled as not being a good match for the role.

Brevity is best; ensure that only information relevant to the role is included. Put keywords in the summary at the top of your resume, use plain fonts, and avoid graphics and tables, both of which ATS systems can’t read.

If you want to see how your resume aligns to a stated job description or advertisement, there’s a great site called Jobscan (www.jobscan.co). All you need to do is copy and paste your resume in one field, the job description in the other, hit the analyse button and see the results. It will give you a percentage match rate with a skills comparison. You can use this information to further modify and update your resume so it’s a better match for the advertised job.

Thanks for reading about resume-reading software!  If you liked this information, you can receive many more tips and hints on effective job search for mature job seekers by purchasing the eBook on Amazon by clicking here.

The Career Medic – Taking the worry out of job search for the over 40s

www.thecareermedic.com