Posts Tagged ‘executive job search’

How to Future-Proof Your Career

There is a huge opportunity for those willing to redevelop themselves.

By Julie Norwell

In her 2018 memoir, Becoming, former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama opens with a reflection on how, when she was a little girl, adults would ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up: “Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child – as if growing up is finite. As if, at some point, you become something and that’s the end.”

It’s an observation that people in the modern work world might also appreciate because career changes have become a part of life. Long gone are the days when a worker might retire with a gold watch from the same company at which he launched his career. Nowadays, American workers stay with an employer 4.1 years on average. Chances are good that whatever you set out to do at the beginning of your career is far from what you now do for a living. And whatever you do today may not be what you will be doing tomorrow.

We can all thank (blame?) technology for that. For better or for worse, rapid technological innovations are changing the landscape for workers of all calibers, and the pace is only accelerating, especially since Covid.

A few years ago, management consulting literature was heralding the “future of work” as nothing short of a transformation of business as we know it. Until recently, analysts predicted this phenomenon would play out in five to ten years – a timeframe that seemed scary and head-spinning. Then Covid came and compressed the transformation into several months.

Almost overnight, people went digital, moving their lives and livelihoods online, and businesses, in a mad scramble to maintain business continuity, moved mountains to support the shift. People who had never heard of Zoom calls, met with a doctor virtually, or ordered household goods online, got a crash course.

The Covid experience has demonstrated that automation, artificial intelligence and digitization are quickly expanding into every aspect of our lives – and they’re here to stay. This is unnerving because the skills workers currently have fall short of those needed for future jobs. And the gap is increasing. At the same time, technology will create job opportunities that don’t yet exist.

It’s clear that the situation is complicated, and uncertainties abound. Navigating them will be challenging, and individuals must shoulder the responsibility of preparing for the jobs of the future if they want to remain relevant.

The good news is that many smart people are already thinking about how best to do that. Here are some of the ways they recommend to future-proof your career.

One of the most important things you can do to prepare yourself for your professional future is to start learning new skills today – and don’t stop. Ever.

If you aren’t familiar with the terms “upskill” and “reskill” yet, you soon will be. Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum raised the alarm about the widening skills gap in the world, launching a major initiative to future-proof 1 billion jobs that are estimated to be transformed by technology by 2030 – almost one-third of all jobs worldwide.

“Upskilling” means learning new skills in an existing job in order to do it better or, perhaps, in a different way. Why is this important? Because skills used on the job are estimated to have a half-life of five years or less. That means that half of what you learned five years ago is irrelevant, and much of what you learned ten years ago is obsolete.

“Reskilling” means training or learning to do a job in a completely different occupation. This will prove crucial for people whose jobs are at risk of being automated.

What skills should you learn? That depends on what you do for work, the demands of those fields and the specific competencies that you, personally, might need to grow. They might range from hard skills, such as data analytics or coding, to soft skills like leadership or emotional intelligence.

How should you learn? Again, it depends on what you do and where you work, but skills-building could incorporate a combination of formal education, online classes, coaching, and any number of other learning forums that can be layered into the daily work environment. Many of these are – you guessed it – digital technologies, like digital nudges delivered through mobile apps, augmented reality-based trainings, game-based learning, and micro-learning.

It Takes a Village

Rest assured that individuals aren’t alone in facing the evolving nature of work. Businesses are facing them, too, and business leaders are worried. It’s become abundantly clear that it’s in their interests to help workers bridge the gap between the skills they have and those they need for the jobs of the future.

According to PwC’s 2020 annual survey of 1,500 CEOs of major companies, 74% of CEOs are concerned about the availability of the talent they need to ensure their company’s growth – up from 53% in 2012. (Notably, the survey was conducted before the Covid crisis gripped the world.) They recognize the need to offer training opportunities to employees to both fill skills gaps and reduce turnover. Targeting companies with skills-building programs will give job seekers an advantage in the employment market.

AT&T, for example, spends roughly $200 million annually on employee training, and Walmart created Walmart Academy in 2016 to train its associates for promotion. Amazon offers multiple programs to train its employees in critical tech skills.

Unfortunately, most companies are more talk than action. Only 18% of global organizations have made “significant progress” in developing upskilling programs – in the United States that figure is only 8%.

Companies should do more, and they likely will, but until they do the onus will continue to be on individuals to do what they can to remain competitive.

Intentional Learning

For some people, learning new skills is easier said than done. They can’t just take a course on a new topic and immediately master the material. It often takes time, context, and countless iterations before they can truly learn a new skill. It also takes a unique frame of mind.

The latest thinking on upskilling and reskilling is that the first lesson that some people need to learn is how to learn. “Learning itself is a skill,” according to a report by McKinsey, “and developing it is a critical driver of long-term career success.”

People who are effective learners can be called intentional learners. This means they approach every experience as a learning opportunity and, thus, squeeze more value out of it than the average person.

According to McKinsey, intentional learning can be developed by adopting two critical mindsets and five core skills. The first is a growth mindset – that is, a belief that your competencies are unlimited – that you are capable of evolving and changing as a person. This is in contrast to a fixed mindset – a belief that you are who you are, that you cannot change, and your talents are finite. Cultivating a growth mindset requires you to recognize that “failures and mistakes are not indicative of the limits of your intellect but rather tools that inform how you develop.”

How to Future-Proof Your Career

The second critical mindset is one of active curiosity, which McKinsey labels the “engine of intentional learning.” Curiosity is an openness to new ideas and a channel for inspiration, and it motivates people to learn more and more. Many people are naturally curious, but those who aren’t can cultivate it, which is great because curiosity is useful at any stage in your career.

Once these two critical mindsets are in place, McKinsey identifies five best practices to support and develop them. They include setting goals, protecting time for learning, actively seeking feedback, conducting deliberate practice, and reflecting to evaluate yourself and determine your progress.

Practicing intentional learning is a personal investment, to be sure, but the pay-off is improvement in your skills and performance, using a method that keeps you inspired and engaged, which will help you prepare for the changing demands of the jobs of the future.

There is a huge opportunity awaiting those who are willing to redevelop themselves. It’s just a question of seizing it.

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8 Key Career Lessons to Be an Executive

Everyone knows the proverb, “Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.” This maxim offers a great lesson to people who are trying to navigate the demands of the modern executive job market because it’s no longer prudent to leave the task only to recruiters.

By Julie Norwell

There is an endless supply of people who don’t know how to find an executive job. If you’re smart and capable, you can easily manage the succession plan of your career up to a point. But at a certain level you won’t go any higher if you haven’t learned 8 key lessons on what it takes to get tapped as an executive.

1. Understand that executive positions are filled predominantly by word of mouth – as many as 75% of them. Really!

When hiring managers need to fill an executive role, the first thing they do is blast out a note to everyone they know to ask if they know someone who might be a good candidate for the job. Professional contacts and networking are THE most used tools to source executive candidates.

Most people wrongly think that third-party recruiters account for the bulk of all placements. They used to have a much bigger share than they do today, but when LinkedIn came onto the scene in 2003, it democratized the recruiting process. Today, third-party recruiters are responsible for filling only 10% of executive job openings.

A tool used even less frequently than recruiters is job postings. If they’re used at all, job postings will simply fulfill a regulatory obligation after a candidate has been determined. Why? Because hiring managers want to hire someone they know and respect or someone who is recommended by someone they know and respect.

2. Always be looking for a job before you need one

Good career change skills aren’t limited to when you are actively looking for a job. It begins way before you are thinking about a transition and it extends well past it, too. In fact, a good career transition in the short-term hinges on good career management in the long-term.

You should never miss an opportunity to increase or enrich your network. The essence of this lesson is: Who do you know? and Will those people advocate on your behalf? If it seems like a chore or too time consuming, remember that networking is a core function of any executive job. It’s very important to build time to network into your work week. If you lack the time management skills to do this, put it on your calendar until it becomes a habit.

In addition to building relationships, networking helps you stay abreast of industry trends and know what the competition is doing. It is a way to keep your ear to the ground and keep yourself in people’s minds. You never know where your next opportunity will come from and networking keeps your options open. Executives who learn this early are most successful.

3. Pay it forward

Many job seekers get the importance of networking, but might miss the equally critical step of building up social capital first. The only time they think to reach out to people is when they need something. That is a huge political mistake. It’s a lot harder to take from the pot if you haven’t contributed to it.

People are far more inclined to help you if you’ve already put something into the relationship. People who pay it forward have learned this crucial lesson. Paying it forward has a way of paying us back.

If your career seems to have plateaued, it may be that you’re not doing enough to nurture relationships with people. You should be responsive to requests for favors from others – even better, you should proactively help people who aren’t asking for it. The more you do, the more likely it is that people will think of you when they learn about opportunities.

4. Learn how to verbalize your value proposition

Lots of people can be extroverts in their work and in everything they do that relates to their competencies, but when it comes to talking about themselves and marketing the value they bring to the table, they hide in the corner. They aren’t comfortable verbalizing their value proposition.

The best way to understand what value you offer is to talk to people – that is, to network. Solicit feedback from people about the work that you’ve done so you can understand how your efforts contributed to the success of your projects. Log your achievements regularly in a book so that you can refer to them when you need to.

5. Ask not what a company can do with your experience, tell them what you can do for the company

A lot of people lean on the traditional measuring stick of academic credentials, experience, and time served in a job to demonstrate their value during a job search. But thinking about recruiting in terms of function and credentials is old-fashioned. Much more important to hiring managers is: What specifically can you do for me?

Hiring managers want to hire an executive who can change the company for the better.

They look for someone who can minimize risk, drive revenue, improve efficiencies, innovate new practices, and so on. In the age of Covid, this is especially true. Some industries are in big trouble and need leaders who can lead in times of crisis. They may need to reinvent how they do business. In their mind, it’s far better to hire someone with a stellar reputation for demonstrable achievements than someone with an impressive pedigree or with the right number of years of experience.

To boost your appeal as a candidate, it is incumbent upon you to tout your abilities to meet a company’s known needs. Don’t know what they are? Ask! Ask hiring managers what keeps them awake at night or what opportunities they wish they had time to pursue. Explain clearly the value you will bring to the company if they hire you.

6. Recognize the opportunity to create an opportunity for yourself

In today’s world, it is common for savvy people to convince hiring managers to create a position for them that didn’t otherwise exist. If you’ve saved business partners millions over years and you are actively interacting in the job market, people will learn of your amazing qualifications and realize that they can’t afford NOT to hire you.

How does this work? It starts with a conversation with a hiring manager about the challenges her company faces and the opportunities in the business that need to be addressed within the year. If you articulate your value proposition well enough, they will find a place for you in the business.

7. Always be upping your game

Your value proposition rests on the results that you’ve produced. Therefore, it is important to do a really good job in your current position so that people are enthusiastic about supporting you. But that’s not enough.

Upping your game has become a must just to stay competitive. According to a Pew Research Center survey 87% of workers believe it will be essential for them to get training and develop new job skills throughout their work life in order to keep up with changes in the workplace, and 54% see continuous training as essential to career success.

A great, non-traditional way of honing your executive chops is by doing board service for a nonprofit organization. Doing so gives you valuable experience, demonstrates your social responsibility, and builds your network – often with some pretty impressive people.

8. Hire a professional

Job search tactics change over time, and during the Covid crisis they have accelerated. How can you stay on top of market changes? When in doubt, consider hiring a pro. There are many benefits to professional assistance:

  • Because pros are constantly working with job seekers, they have the most up-to-date information on current hiring practices and hot button issues
  • Pros are best positioned to help you identify any blind spots or unknown needs that are holding you back
  • Pros can help you consider career options you encounter from an objective perspective
  • Pros can offer new tactics to try when you just can’t seem to reach the golden ring
  • Pros keep you motivated, on task, and are your best cheerleader

Growing professionally is an ongoing process, and your route will likely change over your career. To maximize your potential as an executive and optimize your options, use these lessons to manage your career, and you will see the payoff.

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12 Ways to Maximize LinkedIn During a Career Change

Most people considering a career change know that LinkedIn is THE place to start a job search. But few fully understand the richness of the tool. Sure, they are “on” LinkedIn, they re-create their resume on their profile page, they create a job search, they add suggested contacts to their network, and they “like” posts in their feed. But there is so much more you can do.

By Julie Norwell

LinkedIn is one stop shopping for leveraging your network for so many aspects of your career. That is true whether you’re actively job hunting or simply want to maximize your potential for opportunities not yet on the horizon. But it’s especially powerful during a career change. If you are preparing for one, there are a several ways to harness the power of LinkedIn to make the most of your career change.

1. Reverse engineer your job search

Pros know that the least useful way to get a job is to apply to a job posting. The most successful job searches begin with reverse engineering the process. What does that mean?

Reverse engineering means to take something apart to study how the individual components work together to enable you to duplicate it. In the context of a job search, this means identifying the job that you want, figuring out the prerequisites of that job, remaking yourself as the perfect candidate – and ensuring your resume reflects it – and positioning yourself in such a way that hiring managers recruiting for that job will easily find you.

Easier said than done, you say? It’s not as hard as you think – and it’ll be worth every minute you spend.

Consider how a typical job search plays out. You go to a job search platform, plug the desired company, job title, and location into a search engine, see what pops up, and apply to the most attractive opportunities. There are significant problems with that approach, however.

First, resumes submitted to online job postings invariably get screened by Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) before they are ever seen by human eyes. ATS offers hiring managers numerous filters to quickly scan thousands of resumes for keywords that match the job description. If your resume doesn’t reflect the keywords sought by the hiring manager, you may as well throw your resume into the trash.

Second, a ridiculously high number of job openings are never even posted online. Rather, they are available only in what is called the “unpublished market.” Anne Lipsitz, senior career consultant at The Barrett Group, estimates that the unpublished market represents over 50% of the job market. In other words, half of all available positions are never publicly advertised. (Click on image below to listen to Anne’s podcast.)

You can solve for the first problem by studying the keywords of appealing job postings. Make sure your resume mentions all the required experience and skills. Note whatever gaps there might be and upskill if it makes sense to do. (You may even find a course on LinkedIn Learning that meets your needs.)

The trick to solving the second problem is to access connections in your network and, in turn, their connections. The more you plumb the reaches of your connections, the better your chances of locating hidden opportunities in the unpublished market. Doing so calls for strategically managing your network.

Manage Your Network

2. Actively build your network

The first rule of thumb in a successful job search is: the bigger the network, the more the opportunities. According to a survey published on LinkedIn, networking is the biggest factor in finding a job for all types of people – whether they are actively job hunting, employed, or any combination of the two. By some estimates, 85% of all jobs are landed through networking.

So, if you are looking for a job and your LinkedIn profile doesn’t show 500+ connections, get busy! Get in the habit of sending a connection request to everyone you meet.

3. Leverage your social capital

Most people understand the concept of using first-degree connections in LinkedIn. But the real magic happens when you open up your second-degree connections and reverse engineer companies and roles.

“It can be a real game changer,” said Lipsitz. “We are finding that a LinkedIn member with just 150 people in their first-degree circle can access up to 250,000 social capital contacts through their second-degree contacts. It’s fascinating to see the explosion of opportunity when we move from one circle to another.”

LinkedIn allows you to creatively and strategically navigate your networks – whether it’s alumni networks or former colleagues that now work at company where you want to work. Ideally, you will connect with people at an organization that are close to the gatekeepers of your target position to create the groundswell of support that you need BEFORE you apply.

4. Join LinkedIn Groups

A great way to connect and participate in discussions with new people in your target industry, job function, company, and so on, is by joining groups. LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 groups. This is a fantastic way to build ties, especially if you’re trying to trailblaze a career in a new industry. Once you’re in a group, make your presence known by actively engaging in discussion threads. Inviting key players from these groups into your network can have a powerful impact on your career opportunities according to Anne Lipsitz.

“I have some clients who have seen triple digit increases in the number of people that have viewed their profile after having joined groups,” said Lipsitz. “There is a lot of benefit to contributing content, liking, sharing, commenting, and using hashtags to engage a new audience. Plus, you gain specific subject matter expertise. It’s a brilliant strategy.”

5. Keep in touch after leaving a job

One of the great things about LinkedIn is that it is an aggregator of all your business contacts. Once upon a time, a job change also meant a change of email and phone number – and a risk of losing contact with former colleagues. LinkedIn resolved that problem. Still, don’t neglect your old relationships. Maintaining them is as important as currying new ones. Be proactive about dropping a line to say “hello” to people, especially those “high asset” contacts. You never know when you’ll need to leverage that social capital.

Create Your Personal Brand

Let’s face it, the employment market is like any market. If you want something to sell well, you need to manage the public perception of it. That includes yourself. To ensure you aren’t missing out on opportunities, you need to create a clear personal brand and stand out from the crowd. There are several ways to do it. Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit…

6. Use the “About” section to tell your story

The “About” section is underutilized by many LinkedIn users. But this is the ideal spot to showcase your personal brand. Pack the text with keywords of the positions and industries in which you’d like to work, the better to funnel recruiters to your profile page.

7. Manage your personal profile

Be sure to always keep your resume and professional responsibilities updated. List your relevant skills, and keep them current. And remember, “relevant skills” doesn’t mean ALL of your skills. List skills that are relevant to the industries and job functions that you’re focusing on, and omit the rest.

Take the time to edit your personal profile to highlight the attributes about yourself that you want people to notice. Many of these edits can be made in a matter of minutes.

(Hint: Click on “Me” in the top bar, then on “View Profile.”)

8. Customize your headline

Your LinkedIn headline is automatically the same as your most recent job title. But it doesn’t have to be. If you’re striking a new career path or just want to jazz up a boring title, you can rewrite it. Don’t feel restricted to using a conventional title, either. Make it specific to what you do, but feel free to make it interesting enough that people will want to learn more about you.

9. Make a statement with your photos

A picture is worth a thousand words. Make them count in your favor. Choose a photo that shows you in good light, not too far away, and with a smile in your eyes. It never hurts to splurge on a professional photo. And while you’re considering your headshot, don’t forget to leverage the background photo to help drive home a message about your personal brand.

10. Customize your LinkedIn URL

LinkedIn automatically generates a URL for you when you create an account – and it looks it! But you can change the extension to anything you want. It makes you easier to find, it shows your attention to detail, and, well, it just looks more professional on your resume and business card. Why have “www.linkedin.com/in/julie-norwell-5600929” when it takes only 30 seconds to have www.linkedin.com/in/julienorwell?

11. Be a thought leader

Post content that shows readers that you are a thought leader in your field. This is especially important if you’re in a professional services industry. This includes posting original content, sharing media that might interest others in your field, and commenting on the posts of other members. You can even write and publish long-form articles, create videos and advertise events right from LinkedIn.

12. Show off your creds

Having someone else vouch for your skills is a great way to build up your credibility. Ask people in your network to write you a recommendation or endorse you for something. If making an outright request for an endorsement makes you feel uneasy, consider proactively endorsing someone whose endorsement you’d value. Doing so often spurs people to reciprocate. If you find that the endorsements you are receiving are skewing your image too much in one direction, you can manage which endorsements to show and which to hide.

While the advantages of maximizing your LinkedIn account are greatest during a career change, it makes sense to stay actively engaged during all stages of a professional career. Even after you’ve landed an amazing job, never underestimate the present – and future – value of maintaining connections, building social capital, and just paying it forward on your career.

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4 Crucial Tips for Remote Interviewing

When the pandemic hit in March, most people got a crash course in using online conferencing technology whether they wanted it or not.

By Julie Norwell

With no end to the health crisis in sight, it’s clear that using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, BlueJeans, Google Meet, and many other video conferencing platforms will be part of the “new normal” work experience for the foreseeable future. For those new to the job market, this trend will include remote job interviews.

Interviewing for a new job is stressful enough in the best of circumstances. It’s especially fraught when you face the double whammy of a health-economic crisis. For one thing, the stakes are higher. With the unemployment rate topping 10%, there are many more job seekers per job opening than there were prior to the pandemic. Adding in a remote interviewing component is bound to challenge job seekers of all stripes because it introduces so many more opportunities for things to go wrong.

But things don’t have to go wrong. If you know how to prepare, there is a lot you can control. And what you can’t control you can manage. If you’re fresh to the job market it is worth reviewing some best practices about remote interviewing to make sure you avoid the most common gaffes and put your best foot (face?) forward.

Prep Your Tech!

Before you do anything else, make sure you are comfortable with the technology you will be using. Make sure to download the required app well in advance of the interview so that you aren’t caught needing to update your software minutes before you are supposed to go live. Showing up late to an interview is a cardinal sin – even when the reason for your lateness is that you were struggling to get the video technology to work.

Test your mic, your camera, and your connectivity. Are your voice and image clear? Are you framed well? (The top of your head should be half an inch from the top of the screen.) Ideally, you will be looking neither up nor down at the camera, but straight into it. And make sure your lighting is good. If you’ve got a light source behind or to the side of you, you risk looking like a ninja, like you have a halo, or are the subject of an artistic exercise in chiaroscuro. All of them are distracting. The best practice is to be lit from the front, near a window, if possible. Everyone looks better in natural light.

Ask a friend to help you test things out to be absolutely certain that you are ready before your interview. Attention to these details are the low-hanging fruit of remote interview prep. Failing to do them could signal a fatal lack of preparedness to your interviewer…and first impressions are lasting.

Consider Your Setting

One big difference between in-person and remote interviewing is that you bear all the responsibility of managing the visual perspective that a hiring manager has of you. That’s not limited to your attire, which is still as important as ever, by the way (at least from the waist up). It also includes the backdrop of your living environment.

Many people new to video conferencing have unwittingly displayed their unmade bed, streaking toddlers, family squabbles, or worse during a call.

“I was once in a corporate meeting with several people, including one guy whose roommate began using the toilet behind him without closing the door,” said Anne Lipsitz, executive career consultant at The Barrett Group. “He had no idea what was happening behind him, and it was pretty awkward when we suggested he close the bathroom door during our meeting.

Auditory distractions – like barking dogs, crying babies, and door bells chiming – should also be managed as much as possible. When in doubt, keep yourself muted at all times except when you are speaking.

Many online conferencing platforms have a designated button on the keyboard for quick mute/unmute function, like the space bar for Zoom, or the “M” key for Bluejeans. Make sure you know which button to use during your call and employ it as necessary.

If you like to use headphones during video calls, best to ask permission before your interview, to ensure they won’t divert your interviewer’s attention. In short, the rule of thumb is to minimize any possible distractions lest they become things by which your interviewer judges you.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Controlling for potential problems is crucial, nevertheless, the best laid plans often go awry. How you handle those situations matter. When things go south unexpectedly, make sure you have a contingency plan. If a sudden hurricane comes through and wipes out your power, make sure you have a phone number to let your interviewer know that there is a problem.

In the world of remote working, an embarrassing family interruption is much more likely than a hurricane, as demonstrated by the now famous BBC interview of a man whose segment was disrupted by the hilarious appearance of his two young children bursting into his office, and the even funnier commotion of his wife skidding into the scene to hustle them out.

It’s a very bad interview when no one remembers – or even cares – about your comments because something more interesting has happened over your shoulder. So how to handle it?

“Acknowledge it and absolutely own it,” said Annie Meisels, an actress and public speaking coach whose business, A Powerful Voice, now caters to workers trying to connect with others in a virtual setting. “If you seem embarrassed, it becomes a negative. But if you own it, you don’t look bad – you look human. Introduce your child or your dog to your onscreen audience, crack a joke, then try to move forward smoothly.”

Done right, the situation could end up demonstrating some pretty great characteristics about you, like adaptability, humor, and grace under pressure – all highly valuable assets during the current crisis. It may even help build a human connection with your interviewer – which is much more difficult to do remotely than in an in-person setting.

Try to Make a Human Connection

You absolutely have to work harder to make a human connection through a screen. A number of studies suggest that a huge percentage of interpersonal communication is non-verbal, and during a remote interview you don’t have the luxury of a handshake, a walk down a hallway, or a leisurely lunch. You have 30-60 minutes to be authentic, and small details count more than you think.

“Project your voice! Make sure you are articulating well,” said Lipsitz. “And be mindful of where your eyes are – try to look at the camera and not at the image of your interviewer or of yourself more than necessary. It’s as important to get people at “Hello” in a video interview as in real life, so you need to seem attentive, responsive, and have a smile in your eyes.”

People who aren’t naturally high energy personalities might need to fake it lest they come across as disinterested and lose an edge to their competition. Tricks include leaning in to show interest, deliberately varying your vocal range, and asking conversational questions that can connect you to your interviewer. Try to prepare some appropriate anecdotes that might help your interviewer relate more to you. People who reveal personal information about themselves are more likely to feel a human connection.

By the way, if you want to take notes, ask permission so that your interview doesn’t think you’re distracted, unengaged or – worse – checking your phone. Set expectations up front to avoid judgement.

With luck, the next time you’re planning to change jobs, you will have the option to interview in person. Likelier than not, however, remote interviews are here to stay in some form. Not to worry – with an eye to these basic tips, and a little practice, you can be as successful in your job interviews whether they’re conducted live at an office or remotely from your home.

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Diversity in the Workplace is a Win-Win-Win

Corporate America has a long way to go to achieve true diversity, especially at the executive level. Change has come at a snail’s pace for decades. But then the Black Lives Matter protests happened.

By Julie Norwell

BLM protests successfully put the issue of racism and racial prejudice front and center in the national debate in the same way that the #MeToo movement spotlighted sexual harassment and gender bias in 2018. In the wake of these protests, employers will surely feel pressure to recruit and promote more Blacks, as well as other underrepresented groups.

As with women, a redress is way overdue for Blacks in the workplace. Last December a significant study about the status of corporate diversity efforts in the U.S. found that Blacks face myriad obstacles to professional advancement and workplace success that Whites just don’t experience – and don’t even see. The report, “Being Black in Corporate America,” which was produced by the Center for Talent Innovation, a nonprofit group focused on workplace diversity, included these key findings:

  • Blacks, who comprise over 13% of the U.S. population, occupy only 3.2% of senior leadership roles at large companies in the U.S.
  • 58% of Blacks, on average, have experienced racial prejudice at work, with that number reaching as high as 79% in the Midwest.
  • Fewer than 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs are Black – at last count there were only five. (According to Fortune Magazine, there have only been 18 Black CEOs at the head of Fortune 500 companies in the past 20 years.)
Diversity in the Workplace is a Win - Win - Win
Diversity in the Workplace is a Win – Win – Win

If you’re a jobseeker, lack of diversity is a critical issue regardless of your skin color, gender, or sexual persuasion. Why? Because studies prove that companies that are racially and ethnically diverse perform better than companies that aren’t. They also show that companies with weak track records on diversity have a competitive disadvantage. Can you say “job security?”

The Covid-19 crisis will likely make or break many companies. Finding solutions to the challenges they face will require innovations and new approaches that a diverse workforce can bring most effectively. Therefore, jobseekers of all demographics would be smart to target diverse companies in their job search.

In short, companies that aren’t diverse may not have much of a future.

Diversity to the Rescue

It might seem an inauspicious time – the middle of a pandemic that has sent the economy reeling – for supporters of diversity to be pressing their case. Companies often lose focus on their diversity and inclusion (D&I) goals during economic downturns as they face other pressing challenges. That was certainly true during the 2007 financial crisis.

But now is exactly the right time for companies to ramp up their efforts to improve D&I

But now is exactly the right time for companies to ramp up their efforts to improve D&I according to global consulting firm, McKinsey.

McKinsey, which tracks corporate diversity, found in its latest report, Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters, that the business case for diversity and inclusion is stronger than ever. When it comes to gender, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile – up from 21% in 2017 and 15% in 2014. It also found that the greater the representation of women, the higher the likelihood of outperformance.

When it comes to ethnic and cultural diversity, the results were even more impressive. Top quartile companies outperformed those in the fourth quartile by 36% in profitability. That is up from 33% in 2017 and 35% in 2014.

On the flip side, companies that ranked low on gender and ethnic diversity faced a steep penalty. They were 27% more likely to underperform on profitability than all other companies.

Diversity Delivers the Goods

So, what’s the secret sauce in diversity? Quite simply, diversity unlocks potential. Novel products and solutions are created when people of varied experiences bring new ideas to the table.

Consider the Broadway hit, Hamilton, for example. A highlight of the Fourth of July weekend for many people was the opportunity to stream Hamilton on Disney+. The show, written by a Latino, featured the original cast, of which nearly everyone was either Black or a person of color.

Diversity Delivers the Goods

That might seem ironic for a show that features the white men that were America’s Founding Fathers. But very quickly skin color takes a backseat to a unique retelling of the country’s nascence, and the West Indian immigrant at the heart of it, because it is performed in an incredibly creative, unconventional way.

The success of Hamilton is a good example of how diversity, and the fresh ideas that accompany it, can take shake up an institution – in this case, the Broadway musical industry – and create a new formula for success. After all, who would ever have guessed that a historical epic about a White man and his penchant for policymaking told through hip-hop and rap – musical styles that originated with young, urban, Blacks – would become one of the most successful Broadway musicals of all time?

Inclusion Is Critical, Too

Another key finding in studies about corporate diversity is that sometimes diversity isn’t enough. Workers in diverse environments won’t give their best performance if they don’t also feel included. Inclusion means a sense of fairness of advancement opportunity, freedom from bias, and an ability to be themselves.  

Workers of all stripes who feel a lack of inclusion or belonging will be less engaged in their work, less loyal, and less likely to stay at a company. In fact, they are less likely to even pursue a job at an organization if they perceive that organization to be non-inclusive. Women, LGBTQ+ and racial or ethnic-minorities are particularly prone to feeling a lack of inclusion, but workers in all demographics report a lack of belonging at work.

It’s bad news for everyone at a company when a portion of the workforce isn’t engaged. Imagine trying to execute a project when your team members are thinking more about leaving the company than about their responsibilities.  

As a jobseeker, it’s not easy to ascertain indicators of inclusion at a company from the outside. But looking at the diversity of people at all levels is a good start – especially the executive level. Look for processes and policies that promote equality of opportunity and transparency. You should also look at who is accountable for D&I efforts. Ideally, they will be on the plate of core-business leaders and not just relegated to the HR department. 

A Nexus of Change

A Nexus of Change

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the numerous crises our country faces simultaneously: a pandemic, an economic crisis, and race protests roiling the nation. But it will be a silver lining, to be sure, if the intersection of these events results in employers taking significantly greater steps towards advancing diversity and inclusion goals.

Doing so will benefit not only underrepresented groups, it will also benefit workers of every demographic. Best of all, the innovation and creativity it ushers in will position companies to survive, thrive, and, if necessary, rethink their entire business models.

In short, diversity in the workplace will be a win-win-win.

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Which Industries Will Sink and Which Will Swim in the Post-Covid World?

Here is a peek at the post-pandemic outlook.

By Julie Norwell

The employment numbers for May are still ugly, but by this point they shouldn’t shock anyone. Economists have been telegraphing for the past two months that the economic worst of the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic is yet to come. If Goldman Sachs is to be believed, the economic worst has arrived – with GDP shrinking to unprecedented lows and unemployment stretching to unprecedented highs.

But there is a silver lining to bottoming out. Now begins the upswing.

To be sure, the labor market has borne the biggest brunt of the economic downturn. In just eleven weeks the unemployment rate has rocketed from one of the lowest it’s ever been to one of the highest it’s ever been.

We can all take heart in the indicators suggesting that the second half of the year will be better, and that investors expect unemployment to improve relatively quickly.  But, let’s not kid ourselves – business in the post-Covid world is likely to be dramatically different, and some of the hardest hit industries – amusement parks, movie theaters, hotels, clothing stores, and airlines – may not recover for some time, if ever.

Other industries will rebound, however, as will companies that are bold and agile enough to adapt to a new business-as-usual. The employment market, too, will likely transform, with job opportunities growing and declining in unexpected places and ways. Jobseekers who know where to look will have an edge.

Here is a peek at the post-pandemic outlook.

A peek at the post-pandemic outlook.
Which Industries Will Sink and Which Will Swim in the Post-Covid World?

Industries Likely to Swim

The breathtaking speed with which the pandemic swept the globe caught everyone off guard and every sector has been affected. Industries such as Video Conferencing & Software Developers, which enjoyed an overnight surge (growth is up 19.1% in 2020 so far), have even faced unique challenges (think Zoom). Still, the pandemic and the uncertainties about when it will end creates better conditions for some businesses than others.

Top performing industries to date according to industry research platform, Vertical IQ, include liquor stores, fruit and vegetable manufacturers, grocery stores, home centers and hardware stores, internet, TV, and mail order retailers, janitorial services, paper products manufacturers, and pet food manufacturers.

Focus on remote working
Focus on remote working

Going forward, industries and businesses that support the exigencies of social distancing and the practice of spending more time at home – be it for work, schooling, or entertainment – will make out well, especially in the short term.

According to industry market researcher, IBISWorld, which offers specific analysis of the coronavirus impact on individual industries, technology will be a sure winner, especially software and systems that facilitate remote business continuity, unified communications-as-a-service platforms, and cloud computing capabilities.

Other industries with a rosy outlook will include online furniture sales (for remote workers setting up home offices), and Employee Assistance Program Services (for the anticipated uptick in mental health issues associated with remote working and quarantining).

Education

Because many educational institutions will continue remote learning into the fall, online tutoring services and educational consultants (to help train teachers and administrators in online teaching) are expected to see greater demand.

E-Commerce
E-commerce has surged.

Retail stores have shuttered, but online shopping has surged – a trend that is expected to grow. Online grocery shopping, in particular, is booming. Compared to pre-Covid days when just 11% of consumers bought groceries online, in the four weeks ending April 7 more than half of shoppers reported placing an online grocery order – 33% of them first-timers to online grocery shopping!

Besides groceries and tangible goods, people are also consuming all kinds of media online, especially video streaming services and video games.

Business advisory services

Not surprisingly, many businesses will be seeking advisory assistance on whether to maintain operations and how best to do so. Management consulting, accounting services, and other advisory service businesses, therefore, will likely see a boost in demand.

Virus mitigation

Demand for Janitorial Services and other industries involved with the prevention of infection will boom as state and local economies open and try to stem fears by a wary public.

Healthcare management.
Healthcare

Industries related to medical instrument and supply manufacturing, medical services, software, medical supplies, and, especially, labor in the healthcare field will see a rise in demand. In addition, many medical providers can expect to see a surge of caseloads by patients who opted to put off discretionary procedures until after the pandemic peaked.

The pandemic has also supercharged the prospects for telehealth. McKinsey recently reported that “Covid-19 has caused a massive acceleration in the use of telehealth. Consumer adoption has skyrocketed, from 11% of U.S. consumers using telehealth in 2019 to 46% of consumers now using telehealth to replace cancelled healthcare visits.”

Industries Likely to Sink

In the post-Covid world there are many industries that jobseekers should think twice about targeting. In fact, when it comes to sinking and swimming, Forbes contributor Stephen McBride minces no words: “For many industries, this crisis will prove to be the final nail in the coffin. [Three] industries will NEVER return to what they once were,” he writes.

These industries are:

  1. Movie Theaters – Why risk infection when you can stream movies at home?
  2. Department Stores – Many first-time online shoppers will eschew shopping in physical stores now that they know how convenient online shopping is.
  3. Office Space Operators – The growing awareness that widespread remote working will be part of the “new normal” means many businesses won’t renew their office leases.
Leisure & Hospitality

Many industries will take years to regain their former strength, especially if human contact is important to the business. Leisure & Hospitality, for example, was hit harder than any other industry, with unemployment reaching nearly 40% (see graph). And because travel has dried up, demand for hotel rooms and restaurant seats may not rebound for a long time. Individual hotels and major operators are projecting occupancies below 20%, a reality that may force many to close. According to IBISWorld, sector revenue is forecast to decline 11.2% in 2020.

Within this industry are subgroups, such as performing arts, spectator sports, museums, amusement parks and national and state parks. Some will fare better than others, but all will face challenges going forward.

Manufacturing

This sector is victim to substantially reduced industrial and consumer spending. According to IBISWorld, revenue for this sector is forecast to decline 18.4% in 2020. The segment of the industry related to medical supplies, however, will be an outlier in the overall decline.

Construction

This sector is volatile in the best of circumstances, and pre-Covid it was already facing stagnant productivity, low levels of digitization, and low profitability according to global management consulting company McKinsey. It was ripe for disruption, and the pandemic will force it to innovate if it is to fully recover. The sector revenue is forecast to decline 6.8% in 2020.

On the upside, low mortgage rates and pent up demand will kick in once the larger economy recovers. Moreover, public investment and infrastructure projects are sorely needed in the U.S. Initiative on these is unlikely before the presidential election, but if the government moves forward on projects in 2021, it could offer a lot of employment opportunity.

Transportation
Consruction and Transportation

Automakers have started to reopen plants, but continuing supply chain and health safety concerns, not to mention waning consumer demand, will continue to hamper the recovery of this industry.

The air travel industry will be even more vulnerable. Revenue is expected to decline 6.3% in 2020 due to the Covid-19 fallout. U.S. airlines carried 51% fewer scheduled service passengers in March 2020 than a year earlier – the largest year-to-year decrease on record and the lowest level of air travel in almost two decades. Demand is unlikely to recover without a concurrent rise in consumer sentiment and improved economic conditions.  

Accelerating Trends and Paradigm Shifts

It’s important to keep in mind that the pandemic isn’t fully responsible for the trajectory of a given industry. New trends in the global order of business have been underway for years thanks to advances in digital technology. Analysts say the pandemic is simply accelerating these trends.

The result may well be a paradigm shift.

Accelerating Trends and Paradigm Shifts

“Covid-19 will force a rebirth of many industries…, re-assessing and re-imagining modes of consumption, supply, interaction and productivity,” writes Mohit Joshi, president of global technology firm, Infosys Limited, in his article, Who will be the winners in a post-pandemic economy?

As counterintuitive as it may seem, now is a great time for talented workers to consider a career change. No matter the industry, companies will survive based on the choices they make now, and choosing good talent is paramount.

McKinsey notes in a recent report that “forward-looking companies know that…the only sustainable advantage is rooted in harnessing the passion, skills, capabilities, judgement, and creativity that people bring to work…This means getting the right people in the right roles to create value.”

This is good news for jobseekers, but they shouldn’t forget that, like companies, those with a healthy combination of resilience, agility and a willingness to adapt to the new normal will be the most successful.

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Emotional Intelligence May Be More Valuable Than Skills In The Job Search

by Julie Norwell

Knowing how to read clients and colleagues, and understanding what underlying thoughts and emotions are influencing their actions and decisions, have long been useful skills in business.

These and related competencies, including staying calm under pressure, an ability to manage social relationships, being aware of your emotions and knowing how to channel them productively, comprise the rapidly spreading concept of Emotional Intelligence (abbreviated as either EI or EQ). These characteristics are recognized not only as important components of good business practices, but also a critical skillset in the modern workplace.

Emotional Intelligence
Hiring managers have taken note.

A Careerbuilder survey of more than 2600 U.S. hiring managers showed that a whopping 71% of employers value emotional intelligence in employees over IQ, and 34% of them admitted to placing greater emphasis on EQ when hiring and promoting employees. Nearly 60% of them said they’d pass on a candidate with a high IQ but a low EQ.

That survey was published in 2011, but the buzz about emotional intelligence has only grown. Many businesses now study EQ and design programs to educate the masses about its important contributions to organizations and how to harness its benefits. The World Economic Forum even ranked emotional intelligence as one of the top 10 skills in 2020 in the The Future of Jobs report – a skill that didn’t even make the top 10 list for 2015.

It’s clear that when it comes to employment and job seeking, emotional intelligence is now critical to have – perhaps even more so than skills and experience.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is, as it sounds, the intersection of emotions and intelligence. It’s the ability to recognize one’s own emotions and the emotions of others, manage the emotions so that they don’t control your own behavior, and use the information in a way that is productive and beneficial to relationships and circumstances.

For example, a manager with high EQ might recognize a worker’s struggle to make a standing 8:30am meeting because the drop-off time of his child’s school conflicts with it. She changes the meeting time to accommodate the worker. The manager has sacrificed little with the schedule change, but has gained enormous appreciation on the part of the worker and even, perhaps, other witnesses, by the gesture.

The theory of emotional intelligence has evolved in different ways since its introduction in the 1980s. Peter Salovey, currently President of Yale University, and John Mayer, Professor of Psychology at the University of New Hampshire, were early pioneers of the theory, publishing a foundational research article in 1989. Daniel Goleman then popularized the concept with the release of his 1995 best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ.

Goleman identified five core competencies:

  1. Self-Awareness – Your ability to accurately perceive your emotions and their effect on those around you.
  2. Self-Regulation – Your ability to manage your emotions and direct your behavior optimally given the situation.
  3. Motivation – Your ability to channel emotions towards clear goals and work towards them, maintaining focused attention and a positive attitude.
  4. Empathy – Your ability to perceive, accurately identify, and understand the emotions of others.
  5. Social Skills – Your ability to manage relationships with people around you to the betterment of all parties.

EQ Goes Mainstream

Over the last twenty years, many experts have tweaked the concept of EQ for professional, academic, and social applications and run with it.

Travis Bradberry, author of best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and co-founder of TalentSmart, a leading provider of emotional intelligence training for businesses, calls emotional intelligence the “missing link” that explains why “people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time.” He also claims that “emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58% of success in all types of jobs.” TalentSmart boasts clients among 75% of the Fortune 500 companies.

The Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute was created at Google in 2007 when a team of leading experts in mindfulness, neuroscience and emotional intelligence developed an internal course for Google employees. It soon became an incredibly popular training program and now serves companies, nonprofits and government organizations worldwide.

And the RULER program, developed at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, has been sweeping the nation’s schools using an evidence-based approach for integrating social and emotional learning into classrooms.

Global management and consulting firm, McKinsey, has spotted the trend, estimating that, between 2016 and 2030, demand for social and emotional skills will grow across all industries by 26% in the U.S.

Benefits of EQ for Job Seekers

Yes, you still need certain skills and experience to get your foot in the door for many opportunities. But having high emotional intelligence will give you leverage over your competitors. Why? Because hiring managers know that people with high EQ make good decisions, handle change well, respond well to feedback, and are able to effectively solve problems. They stay calm under pressure, support their co-workers, and cultivate relationships that help to create productive work environments.

Hiring managers also know that people with high EQ are more likely to tough out a difficult situation, and direct reports of managers with high EQ are less likely to leave a company –  400% less likely according to one source!

Show Me the Money

Once employed, people with high emotional intelligence continue to be rewarded. The Careerbuilder survey showed that a full three-quarters of employers said they’d be more likely to promote someone with high emotional intelligence over someone with a high IQ.

And, in case you’re wondering, that eventually translates into money. According to a 2017 time-lagged study of emotional intelligence and salary, college students identified as having emotional intelligence turned out to enjoy significantly higher salaries 10 to 12 years later, mainly because EQ helped them acquire the social capital necessary to be successful in their careers.

Emotional Intelligence Can Be Developed

Emotional intelligence comes naturally to some people, but, as with music, sports or languages, anyone can learn it with instruction and practice. If you want to boost your EQ, you can peruse the abundance of literature available or take an assessment test. You can also start with the following steps:

  1. Become self-aware. Learn to identify your emotions as they happen. When you can label your emotions objectively, you can learn how to manage them so that you respond to them productively instead of reacting to them. Figure out your strengths and your weaknesses and learn how to maximize your effectiveness within these parameters.
  2. Stop and think. You may not be able to stop from feeling an emotion, but you can manage your response to it. Pause before you speak or write back to someone in a moment of anger or frustration. In the face of criticism, warranted or not, ask yourself how you might learn from the situation.
  3. Train your attention. Life is full of many distractions, but learning to focus on a goal or a purpose leads to calmness and clarity of mind. You can’t stop negative experiences or life stressors from occurring, but you can choose how you react to them. Daily journaling is one excellent way to process your frustrations and put things into perspective.
  4. Talk less and listen more. The more you understand the perspective of others, the more empathetic you’re likelier to be. You don’t have to agree with the perspective of others, but your effort to see how they see things will result in deeper and better relationships.
  5. Manage your relationships. Offer feedback, extend praise, and make apologies. Observe your surroundings and relationships and make concessions or accommodations to others, knowing that they your active efforts will result in better relationships and a more productive workplace.

It’s important to continue to practice these steps to maintain a high level of emotional intelligence. But the effort will pay off because people with high EQs have an edge – in business and in all aspects of life.

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When Hiring Managers Go Silent… Getting Ghosted!

by Julie Norwell

You wrap up an engaging interview at a company and come away feeling that this position would be a great fit for you. You have the impression that the hiring manager feels the same way about you. He walks you to the door, you shake hands, say goodbye…and you never hear from him again. Ever. Not only does he not call, he doesn’t respond to your follow-up calls or emails. You’ve been ghosted!

When Hiring Managers Go Silent… Getting Ghosted!
When Hiring Managers Go Silent… Getting Ghosted!

If this has happened to you, you’re not alone. Companies have been ghosting applicants for years, and it happens across many different industries. A recent survey by Recruiting Daily Advisor found that among applicants that have gotten ghosted, 23% were seeking jobs at business, finance and legal companies, and 22% were job seeking at advertising, marketing, PR and media companies. Many other industries also make the list, including healthcare, retail & hospitality, and tech.

Ghosting is a term that got its start in the world of dating when one person suddenly quits returning the phone calls, emails or texts of the other with no explanation because, you know, it’s too awkward to tell someone that you’re just not that into them anymore. Instead you just pretend that they don’t exist until they quit trying to contact you.

In the business world, the reasons behind getting ghosted are usually not so petty, but it’s equally painful – perhaps more so because, your ego notwithstanding, there are mouths to feed and bills to pay. How long should you hang in there waiting for signs of life?

Job Application Black Hole

Some people experience ghosting at the application stage

Some people experience ghosting at the application stage. They send a resume to company after company with no response. There are several reasons for this:

First, maybe you’re not qualified for the job. According to Dan Resendes, Chief Consulting Officer at The Barrett Group, the biggest mistake job candidates make is submitting an application that doesn’t have 100% of the “must have” job qualifications. It demonstrates two strikes against you: 1) You aren’t qualified, and 2) you didn’t follow instructions. In this case, applying is a waste of time.

If you are 100% qualified and your application still gets no traction, your resume might be to blame. Your resume should reflect ALL the job qualifications, and not just in the body of the resume, but also in the headline.

Most hiring managers handle huge numbers of resumes and only read the top few lines of each one. If you’re applying to a position requiring “international sales experience” and your resume headline reads “sales experience,” you won’t get a response – even if your international experience is highlighted later.

At the same time, you should omit all skills outside the scope of the job requirements. Many people include a laundry list of common core competencies in their resumes, but this sometimes works against you. Hiring managers might think you’re over-qualified, would become bored, or might ask for too much money. It’s counter-intuitive, but if the requirement is for 20 years of managerial experience and you have 25 years of experience, write only that you have 20 years of experience.

Lastly, if you’re applying as a stranger to a job posting, keep in mind that sometimes the job opportunities don’t actually exist. Companies often already have a #1 candidate in mind, perhaps through a referral or an internal promotion, but company policy requires that the job be posted publicly. If this seems unfair, don’t get mad; get a friend on the inside who can propel your candidacy.

How NOT to Get Ghosted

First and foremost is to avoid getting ghosted in the first place. How? By developing social ties and good communication.

Get on the Inside Track.

You should never apply as a total stranger to a company before exhausting all avenues to find a social connection. If you’re looking at $80K+ positions, you can be sure that the people who land these positions are not strangers to the company – they will have been recommended for the role. Find a friend to recommend you and you will have personal reputations and political clout to support you.

If that is easier said than done, don’t fret. Many successful professionals don’t know how to leverage networking to their advantage when they’re new to the job market. They’ve been on the giving, not the receiving, side of networking and may be out of practice with the slow, inconsistent process of building and expending social capital. But no one with 10-20 years of work experience, who has impacted people’s lives through hirings, promotions, and business deals, should have go into a job market cold. Always leverage your social capital first by asking your contacts how you might best proceed for a job.

Know Where You Stand.

When you’re in the screening process ask your counterpart (with a twinkle in your eye): “Do you think I’m a good fit for this opportunity?” Often, she will be honest and say, “Yes,” and tell you next steps. If the answer is “No,” it gives you the opportunity to offer more information about whatever reservations she might have.

As a general rule, the last item of discussion should always be a mutual agreement on next steps so you know the timeline for follow up communication. If they say, “We’ll get back to you by Monday,” and you don’t hear from them, wait one day and check in on Wednesday. If you haven’t nailed down a timeline, wait one week before reaching out to check in.

How to Handle Getting Ghosted at the Interview Stage

If you do get ghosted, there are several things you should keep in mind:

Be Patient and Courteous.

If you get no response to your check-in email, wait one week and call. If you get voice mail, leave your name, phone number and a short message saying, simply, that you’re checking in. Nothing more. DO NOT reference any other attempts to check in or offer reprobation about the lack of communication, lest it sound critical. Remember, this is the ONE person who can open a door for you. When all else fails, try to reach out to someone else at the company, preferably one with a social connection to you, who can advise you on how to proceed.

It’s (Usually) Not Personal.

Don’t take it personally. The most common reasons applicants are ghosted by companies is simply bureaucracy or inefficiencies in the hiring process. Candidate selection processes are often handled by lower-tiered people who are overwhelmed or inexperienced. Sometimes decision-makers aren’t available for interviews during the given timeline. Confidential corporate changes might be underway that hiring managers are prohibited from communicating to applicants. Or maybe the hiring manager just got hit by a bus. In other words, it’s them, not you.

Don’t Give Up.

Resendes tells a story of a client who came to The Barrett Group for career coaching six months after being ghosted by a company. Although he felt like he was a perfect fit during the interviews, he got no response to inquiries about his applicant status. He grew discouraged and gave up. His career coach convinced him he had little to lose in following up again, so he called the company and was greeted with a surprising exclamation: “Thank God you’ve called! We wanted to hire you but misplaced our hiring files and didn’t know how to reach you!” The client swore that the coaching fee was the best money he’d ever spent because he would not have called the company again on his own. The takeaway: If you are running short of options, you have no reason to stop following up.

Reverse Ghosting

Keep to the moral high ground and hope that companies will learn their lesson about ghosting!

If schadenfreude is your thing, you’ll be interested to learn that ghosting now cuts both ways. The incidence of job applicants blowing off scheduled interviews or even accepting jobs only to fail to show up for work without notice or further contact is on the rise. The trend has been reported not only by professional social network, LinkedIn and many news organizations, but also by the Fed.  

Undoubtedly, the tight labor market makes it easier for job applicants to give companies a taste of their own medicine, but resist the temptation to do so.

Even if a better opportunity surfaces, it never pays to burn bridges. Keep to the moral high ground and hope that companies will learn their lesson about ghosting!

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What to Know About Hiring Cycles to Ensure a Successful Job Search

by Julie Norwell

Many factors affect hiring and recruitment. Some are internal to an organization, such as organizational culture, or company product releases. Some are external to an organization, like economic trends. Seasonality is definitely important. Naturally, industry fluctuations play a big role, too.

What to Know About Hiring Cycles to Ensure a Successful Job Search
What to Know About Hiring Cycles to Ensure a Successful Job Search

When you look at the larger picture, it’s clear that what influences hiring and recruitment is often cyclical or evolves over time. The better you understand these factors, the better you can take advantage of them to set yourself up for a successful career change.

It’s the Economy, Stupid!

Obviously, the economy is the paramount influence when it comes to hiring. A strong economy means a good job market. With the unemployment rate currently at 3.6%, a 50-year low, we are seeing a uniquely advantageous time to be job hunting. However, the situation is even more interesting.

It’s clear from the most recent data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that many aspects of the job market are in ground-breaking territory – much of it good news to job seekers.

According to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), job openings have surged over the past decade.

Since hitting a low in July 2009, job openings have rocketed past the pre-recession peak of 5 million in 2014 to 7.4 million at the end of April 2019. Hiring increases have been even more impressive, surpassing pre-recession levels and peaking at 5.9 million hires, a series high.

What’s particularly notable about these figures is this: For most of the JOLTS history the number of hires (measured throughout the month) has exceeded the number of job openings (measured only on the last business day of the month). Since January 2015, however, this relationship has reversed, with job openings consistently outnumbering hires.

In other words, there are a LOT of open jobs. In April, there were 1.5 million more job openings than there were newly hired people. In fact, there are now more jobs available than there are unemployed people! The ratio of unemployed persons per job opening was 0.8 in April according to JOLTS.

Clearly, in this market, the onus is on companies to act quickly lest they lose out on hiring the best talent.

What Industry is Hot and What’s Not?

There is an unsettling truth to keep in perspective if you’re looking to change careers: One reason why there are so many more open jobs than there are unemployed people is because there is a skills gap. Many open jobs are in technical fields requiring skills that too few job seekers have. If you are in a position to do so, you can’t go wrong by improving your technical skills. Technical fields and technical industries are perennially hot when it comes to hiring.

But other industries are growing, too. According to a monthly analysis by LinkedIn, the industries with the most notable hiring shifts in May were Corporate Services (7.6%), Wellness & Fitness (7.4% higher), and Software & IT Services (6.7% higher).

Year to year, employment in professional and business services, and health care continue to trend up. The chart shows the yearly change in the hiring rate in several industries according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Wondering which industries to shy away from? Answer: Mining and Logging, and export-producing goods industries, like Agriculture and Manufacturing – all of which are facing significant downturns in hiring.

A Season for Change

The granddaddy of all hiring cycles is the calendar. While some industries buck the historical trends, there are definitive hiring seasons during the year. Understanding the trends will help you choose the optimal times of the year to pursue a career change.

1st Quarter

For several reasons, a New Year means new jobs. Companies have new hiring budgets and sales forecasts to act on at this time. Recruitment managers are refreshed after a holiday vacation and eager to start filling newly created positions. Moreover, many workers resolve at this time of year to make a career change, which creates opportunities in newly vacated positions. For all these reasons, the January-February time-frame is the springboard of a hiring season that continues throughout the spring.

2nd Quarter

The 2nd Quarter is also a good time to job search, although the later you wait, the fewer job options you might have. The ranks of new hires towards the end of this quarter tend to be filled out by newly minted college graduates. But hiring for many industries peaks in the spring, especially Construction, Tourism and Hospitality. It’s also common to find, at this time, many hiring managers scrambling to fill open spots before the office empties for the summer months.

3rd Quarter

Not surprisingly, hiring surges for seasonal industries like Tourism, and Outdoor & Leisure are typical during the summer months. Education also sees a big boost, as school districts seek to replace non-returning teachers. Professional industries, however, tend to experience a hiring lull. To the extent that companies are hiring, the available jobs are more likely to be seasonal or lower-level positions. After all, it’s hard to set up interviews and streamline the hiring process when people are on vacation.

4th Quarter

Back-to-school season is also a “back-to-work” season, with hiring bumping up again. Rejuvenated once again from their summer vacations, hiring managers are keen to fill available spots in their departments during September and October. They are often motivated by a “use it, or lose it” mentality because whatever funds might remain in their hiring budget at the end of the year will disappear. In November and December, however, hiring falls of a cliff. The glut of major holidays and depleted budgets puts hiring on hold for many industries.

The chart on the left tells the basic story of hiring during the year, but remember that not every industry falls neatly into this pattern.

Hiring in Retail, Warehousing, Transportation and Customer Service, for example, surges during the end-of-the-year holiday season.

Likewise, because January to April is peak business season for Tax and Accounting professionals, hiring in these industries tends to happen outside these busy months.

Regardless of the season, you should never be doing nothing if you’re a job seeker. Slow times are ideal times to be researching new options, developing new skills and, most importantly, networking.

All of these tasks take time and are incredibly important in positioning you to act quickly when the right opportunity presents itself.

Create Your Own Hiring Advantages

If you are trying to figure out the best time to start a career change, familiarizing yourself with cycles and trends that influence hiring and recruitment is a useful place to start. But careers begin and end regardless of whatever economic trends, seasonal cycles, and industry changes are doing. So, when you’re trying to decide the best time to start your career change, the answer is NOW.

The most important influences on your recruitment by a future employer are the ones that you create for yourself.

That means that you should keep abreast of what is going on at your target companies, watch for news announcements that may identify an optimal time for you to make your move. Some hiring managers budget for positions early, so plan ahead and be prepared to send a resume at anytime.

The best time to get a new job is always whenever the right job comes along. The timing of that might be unique – completely outside typical hiring cycles. It could be NOW.

So, continue to network regularly, build relationships, develop new skills for yourself, and prepare to move quickly when the right opportunity comes along.

More articles by The Barrett Group:

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How Has Job Searching Changed in the Digital Age?

by Julie Norwell

The job market is hot! Job openings are at a record high. If ever there was a time to consider changing jobs, now is it. But if you haven’t switched jobs in a few years, make sure you understand what is new, because job searching in the digital age is different from just a few years ago.

How Has Job Searching Changed in the Digital Age?
How Has Job Searching Changed in the Digital Age?

Talk About Competition!

For one thing, technology has led to an explosion of the pool of candidates available to employers. Not only is it easier for candidates to apply for jobs, it is also easier for businesses to find qualified candidates. No longer are you competing with just the local talent – you are potentially competing with job contenders from around the globe. Moreover, technology now enables workers to work remotely with increasing frequency. That means that geography is becoming less of a factor in recruitment when it comes to finding someone with the right skill set for a job.

Who Uses Paper Anymore?

Paper resumes are a relic of a bygone era. Virtually all job communications today, including sending resumes, happens electronically. And if you apply for jobs online, you will encounter ATS, or Applicant Tracking Systems. ATS software has become increasingly popular over the past several years because it enables hiring managers to quickly scan thousands of resumes for keywords that match the job description. If your resume doesn’t include the right keywords, it may never be seen by human eyes. This means that it is as important to craft an ATS-safe resume as it is to make it eye-catching to real people.

It is also important to tailor your resume for every job, structured according to what the company’s known needs are. The success of your application might hinge on one word. Dan Resendes, Chief Consulting Officer of the Barrett Group, recounts one client who was the highest-ranking tech person at his company. Although he reported directly to the COO, his title was “Director of Technology,” not “CIO,” and his resume reflected as much. His efforts to find a new position as a CIO continually came up short until he finally added that one word to his resume. Before long, he landed a position as a CIO.

“When an employer gets 10,000 applications and someone needs to find the five best ones, they’re trying to quickly whittle down the list,” said Resendes.

Success Starts with Social Networking

Networking has always been a great way to get a leg up on the competition when it comes to job hunting. In the digital age, it’s crucial. One reason why is that jobs are often posted on job boards as a matter of formality after someone has already been earmarked for that position.

Social networking

“If you’re responding to job boards, you’re coming late to the party,” says Resendes.

Professional connections enable you to learn about potential opportunities before they even become available. And sometimes a connection is reason enough for a company to create an opportunity. If you offer a skill set that is attractive to a hiring manager, she will find a way to bring you onboard.

Employers often encourage their current employees to leverage their networks and refer their friends. According to a report by software company iCIMS, which designs ATS and recruiting software, 60% of employers believe that referrals bring in candidates that are a better fit for the company. They have good reason to think so. The report finds that 70% of referred employees surveyed have not changed positions since being hired, which means that employers can expect higher retention rates from referral hires.

Get Fully LinkedIn

While a business lunch is still a perfectly acceptable way to network, social media is the best way to build and maintain the informal relationships that are most useful in job hunting. If you’re a professional, the most important one is LinkedIn. The iCIMS report found that, when it comes to job research, 56% of workers use LinkedIn – more than any other social media.

LinkedIn is uniquely designed for professional networking

Unlike other social network websites, LinkedIn is uniquely designed for professional networking. Members design a profile page that is structured like an online resume. You can summarize your career and education and highlight certain skills and expertise. You make connections by inviting people to join your network, which enables you to see their connections and even the connections of those connections. This visual web of professional connections enables you to develop new ones at the companies or industries that interest you.

Members in your network can also endorse you for skills, which increases your professional value in the eyes of other members of your network. According to Dan Resendes, your goal should be to get endorsements from 99+ people in your network. How? The easiest way is to endorse people in your network, yourself. People will often return the favor. What’s more, the activity might also lead to a phone call in which you verbally reconnect, catch up and possibly learn about upcoming opportunities – all from endorsing one person.

Did you know that savvy LinkedIn members can tweak their URL to boost hits on search engines? Say that you are a career auditor but want to transition into operations. You can add certain keywords to the URL of your profile to highlight skills that recruiters might be seeking.

Mistakes to Avoid

  1. The number one mistake a job seeker can make is to prepare his cover letter and resume and immediately apply for a job, says Resendes. The first thing should ALWAYS be to ask yourself: Do I have social capital that connects me to that company? Would the person that can connect me to that company advocate on my behalf? Leveraging social connections should always be the first action.
  2. The second big mistake is to customize just the cover letter of an application. It bears repeating that a resume should always be tailored to the position. And don’t worry about the length. Workers of a certain age remember well the one-page resume. But, nowadays, the length can be as long as necessary to show employers that you offer tremendous value. Still, your resume should not necessarily list ALL of your qualifications. Senior people sometimes list everything, thinking it will help them. But doing so can sometimes make you seem overqualified. The trick is to list only what is necessary to appear like the perfect fit.
  3. You will be Googled! Most seasoned professionals did all their embarrassing, youthful antics before the digital age. But remember: whatever information might be on the Internet about you – both good and bad – is there forever. The best way to make sure your digital footprint best represents you is to post new information – articles, posts, etc. Search engines highlight new information over old.
  4. Some hiring managers may ask you to interview by video. If so, be aware of good video etiquette. That means, be aware of your backdrop, confine your movements to the camera frame, avoid barking dogs and other background noise – and, above all, know how to use video technology!

Job Seeking Cuts Both Ways

Job seekers should keep in mind that an effective job search cuts both ways. Workers should always research a company before accepting a job offer. Thanks to technology, they have much better means at their disposal than ever before to do so.

Job searching cuts both ways

According to iCIMS, nearly one in three full-time working Americans – and 47% of millennials – have declined a job offer primarily because the company had negative online employer reviews.

A quick internet search of a company or its leaders will yield a trove of useful information to get started. Job seekers can then find online reviews and salary information about companies at Glassdoor. Finally, they can glean a lot of information about company culture by simply following corporate executives on Twitter or other social media.

Technology has changed the landscape of the job search. Embracing these changes could mean new opportunities for you.

More articles from The Barrett Group:

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Are you in a midlife career change? Are you changing careers at 30, 40 or 50 years of age? Do you need a new career? If you are currently experiencing difficulty in your job search, we’re here to help. Please send a message with your information or call.

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