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Archive for the ‘Job Seekers’ Category

I wrote the article below in 2012 and it is just as true today as it was then. It never ceases to amaze me when I read articles about interviewers who think it is cool to ask “junior shrink” questions. I wonder if anyone at their company is tracking results of these types of questions and subsequent hires. We all know how expense just one bad hire can be to a company. In fact, the higher the position the more expense the cost which is why a structured performance based interview is a far better strategy. Enjoy

Are you a Junior Shrink Interviewer? By Lee Koren, PHR

Today I was helping a young lady with her job search. We discussed the typical things – Resume, Job Search and Interview Strategies. She told me about an interview she recently attended wherein the interviewer asked “If you could be a fruit, what type of fruit would you be”. Hmm, I’m surprised these questions are still being asked in interviews. I immediately asked her if the interviewer disclosed herself as a doctor (psychologist or psychiatrist) – she said no – but could not confirm that the interviewer did not hold this distinguished designation. Then I asked her if the interview was with Apple – I mean maybe the interviewer was looking for “apple” as a good faith answer – a little interview humour? However, the company was not Apple.

Ok so here I go – up on my soap box. What in the world does “fruit” have to do with getting a job as a customer service rep? I’d like to see that job description – really how do you incorporate “fruit” into the job requirements? Let’s see – “Must love all fruits” or “Only fruit lovers will be considered” Or “Must be able to deal with all kinds of fruits” – I mean really!!!!

Unless the interviewer is a bona fide psychologist or psychiatrist and knows how to decipher the answer then he/she has no business asking this type of question. These questions, asked by inexperienced interviewers. almost always lead to subjective and bias decisions without any measureable evidence to back up the decision. Think about it – my response might be “peach” – when I’m asked “why a peach” I say” because I like peaches” – little do I know that the interviewer dislikes peaches – or maybe he/she is allergic to peaches – there’s one subjective strike against me.

If you are asking junior shrink questions in the interview try replacing it with a behavioural interview question? It is much better to identify the skills and competencies required to perform the job and develop behavioural/performance based questions to help you evaluate each candidate consistently – so much more objective.

Remember, poor hiring decisions are very costly; and questions about what type of fruit, colour or dog a person prefers will end up costing your company in more ways than one.

Lee Koren is a Human Resource Professional with extensive international experience. She is certified as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) by the Society for Human Resource Management and a Master Trainer in Behavioural Interviewing. Lee possesses over 25 years of experience in selection and recruitment. She has recruited and hired thousands of resources for large global corporations.

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Just found and read this article by Tamsin McMahon about the trials and tribulations faced by new Canadians. Although written last year it is as true today as then. The Canadian Government portrays Canada as the land of “milk and honey” full of awesome job opportunities – which just is not true. Well, let me reiterate – there may be more opportunity in the Western and/or Eastern Provinces but is is a fact that the Greater Toronto Area is over-populated – for every job opportunity there is fierce competition. This article definitely hits the nail on the head especially when it comes to New Canadians and job opportunities in Ontario. Enjoy!

http://www.macleans.ca/economy/business/land-of-misfortune

Lee Koren is a Professional in Human Resources (PHR). She is an expert when it comes to Recruitment, Selection and Career Transition. Lee has over 25 years in Recruitment within the USA and Canada.

Let’s talk about the job search function. Most will agree it is time consuming, depressing at times, humbling and lots of hard work. Yet the individuals who are successful will agree they put in place a job search strategy and worked that strategy every day. No, not all day, but for at least 3-4 hours a day. They stayed focused and committed; and yes, even though tempted to send their resume out to dozens of postings where no fit exists, controlled the urge and stayed true to their specific job search. Think about it, without a job search strategy the hunt becomes scattered and very unproductive. It’s like saving for the future without a financial strategy – good intentions but just doesn’t happen. Sitting in front of a computer and sending out resumes to jobs that do not match one’s expertise, competencies or skills is a big waste of time. I’ve spoken to hundreds of people in career transition over the past year who wonder why they are not getting any response from a resume blast. The majority of these individuals do not have a job search strategy, are not committed and definitely not focused.

Below are 10 action items which should be included in a job search strategy:
1. Prepare a solid resume which depicts strengths, core competencies, learnings and achievements.
2. Conduct an in-depth search on Indeed.ca to compare skills, job titles and roles – get creative with keyword searches.
3. Create a list of targeted companies – use google and Linkedin to research the companies and its people.
4. Attend interviewing techniques, job search strategies and networking workshops to refresh and progress.
5. Complete a behavioural assessment to help identify strengths and areas for developments – promotes awareness and allows individual strengths to be highlighted in the interview or even displayed on the resume.
6. Set up mock interviews before attending the real thing.
7. Network with family, friends, associations, schools, colleges and church parishioners.
8. Put a professional profile on Linkedin (if searching for a corporate role). Use all the tools offered by Linkedin to help stay visible and available to recruiters, HR and the Hiring Manager.
9. Take time off to have fun, relax and spend time with loved ones.
10. Continue to Push Until Something Happens.

Of course everyone is different so the job search strategy will be tailored to the individual’s strengths and competencies. It should be workable, measurable and based on individual special needs and specific requirements. In other words asking someone who is looking for a general labour job to create a profile on Linkedin is not workable.
Let’s face it, searching for a job is a job in itself. However, just like in any job the strong individual performer always comes out on top.

Lee Koren is certified as a Professional in Human Resources and certified as a Master Trainer in Behavioural Interviewing. She is passionate about recruitment, selection and career transition.

Check out this article by Jacquelyn Smith, Forbes Staff. There are some very good points here especially the part about networking. Successful job seekers know the value of networking, don’t just send a resume on-line, get out there, be visible and network. Also pay attention to the section about keeping your resume simple, no graphics, tables or logos which might “clog” an applicant tracking system. Enjoy – Lee A Koren, PHR

Many job seekers spend countless hours writing, polishing and blasting their resumes to dozens of companies. Then they wait, and wait, and never hear a thing.
That’s because human resources people and hiring managers receive heaps of resumes for any given job opening, and they end up missing, skipping or tossing a lot of them. However, it turns out there are things you can do to help ensure your resume is seen.

Career experts and a spokesperson for Glassdoor.com, a jobs and career community where people share information and opinions about their workplaces, weigh in.
“I think resumes end up in the resume black hole if the person just responds to a posting or ad and does nothing else,” says Anita Attridge, a Five O’Clock Club career and executive coach. “Today companies are receiving hundreds of resumes for each position and, due to the volume, are not acknowledging receipt of them. Most large and medium-size companies are using applicant tracking systems to screen resumes before a person looks at them. Smaller organizations many just review the ones they receive until they find enough qualified candidates and then set the other resumes aside.”

Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at the jobs site CareerBuilder.com, says she suggests that candidates use the job posting to their advantage. “Use some of the same words and phrases that appear in the job posting in your resume,” she says. “The computer will then recognize them and move your resume toward the top of the pile because you will be a match. But don’t just cut and paste the job posting into your resume or cover letter. If the computer doesn’t catch it, the hiring manager definitely will, and it could hurt your chances of moving forward with an interview.”

Ruth Robbins, a certified career counselor with the Five O’Clock Club, agrees that using buzz words and key phrases that demonstrate you are a perfect fit for the job will help you get on the employer’s radar—but even with a perfectly tailored resume, there is no way to know if or when it will be reviewed by the hiring manager.
“The best way to make sure your resume is seen is by networking into the company,” Attridge says. “Let your networking contact know that you have applied for a position, and ask that person if he or she would send your resume to the H.R. department with an endorsement of you as a candidate. Another way is to try to determine who the hiring manager is and send a resume directly to that person, with a letter asking for an informational interview.”

Robbins agrees. “H.R. managers are often avalanched with resumes, so if you can find someone who works at the company who would be willing to hand in your resume directly to a hiring manager or interested influencer in the selection process, your chances of landing in the black hole [will shrink significantly],” she says.
Mary Elizabeth Bradford, an executive resume writer and author of the bestselling eBook series The Career Artisan, offers some alternative advice. “From what I have seen, what works best in any market is for the job seeker to take a pure, entrepreneurial approach to their job search process,” she says. “I think it would be futile to call H.R. and leave repeated voice messages. A better way is to contact a key decision maker through hard mail and follow up with a phone call. Go around H.R. That’s provocative, right? Well, it works.”

Samantha Zupan, a spokesperson for Glassdoor, agrees that it’s smart to look for more than one way to apply. “In addition to sending your resume through a company’s online job portal, also take the time to do some research and try to identify who the hiring manager may be. If you send a personalized note to the likely hiring manager, a good e-mail may get your resume pulled out of the stack.”
Zupan offers some additional advice:
Have someone proofread your resume. Sometimes it can be something as small as a typo that may turn off an employer and land you in the black hole, she says. “Before sending your resume, have at least one person you trust review it so that it can have a better chance of catching the eyes of the employer.”
Keep it simple. Avoid graphics and logos and other things that may “clog” how an applicant tracking system reads your resume, Zupan suggests.

Research the company’s hiring process. “Companies like Google and Facebook include specific insights into their interview process,” Zupan says. “For example, on the Google careers page, they let you know that one of their recruiters is the first to review your resume and that they look first at your qualifications and experience.” Thorough research can help you properly prepare to avoid the resume black hole.

I shared this Q& A over a year ago, I have since made some updates – enjoy!

Q: With the job market so competitive, getting beyond the resume to an interview is difficult. Resumes are screened by recruiters or systems – any advice on how to get noticed?

A: The purpose of the resume is not to get you a job – it is to get you an interview. Therefore, the resume must optimize your key strengths and competencies and highlight them in a way which “catches the eye” of the recruiter or whoever might be reading the resume. Therefore, it is important to insure your key strengths and competencies are identified and strategically placed on the resume using “keywords”. This will improve the odds of your resume being noticed during the screening process. Also make sure your email is hyperlinked – the easier you make it for the recruiter to contact you the better.

Q: Do cover letters really get read?

A: Depends on the person – I have been a recruiter for 20+ years – if the cover letter is in the body of the email I will read it. If it is attached to the email along with the resume I will open the resume first. If it is incorporated into the resume document well I might scan it quickly. The shorter the cover letter the better, recruiters are just not going to read a 2 page cover letter. Three short paragraphs – First Paragraph contains your interest in the job. Second Paragraph makes the link between the key skills required for the job and your strengths. Third Paragraph is the close.

Q: I do not have a problem getting the interview; in fact I get good feedback on my interview skills. I usually get invited back for a second interview; however I just can’t seem to get beyond this point. Do you have any words of wisdom?

A: Oh to have a magic wand when it comes to the interview! There are so many things riding on a successful interview, some of them are out of your control. I coach my clients to be as prepared as possible. Find out all you can about the company on the internet, its website and Linkedin. If you know any employees ask for a few minutes of their time to chat about the company. Spend time going over the skills required for the job and identifying your accomplishments which demonstrate these skills. Be prepared with specific examples which link your skills to the skills required for the job. If the interviewer does not perform a behavioural interview work some of your good examples into the conversation.

Q: Does it matter if my resume is a Word document or PDF when applying on-line?

A; Many companies are purchasing Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). These systems may or may not be integrated with the rest of their business systems. If not integrated, then the system may or may not open a PDF.doc so to be safe I suggest using a Word doc Why? Because if the recruiter cannot open your resume he or she will most likely move on to the next resume on the list.

Q: You talk about a “system friendly resume” what does this mean?

A: Again, it goes back to a company’s technical infrastructure; and if there is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), whether or not it is fully integrated. If you up-load your resume online and it happens to contain fancy formatting, graphics and tables there is a possibility the text will be distorted when the document is opened at the other end. To be on the safe side, keep the formatting simple; avoid graphics, table and fancy bullets.

Q: I am in career transition and have been told to put a profile on Linkedin. As a recruiter do you use Linkedin to locate talent?

A: Absolutely, Linkedin is the best social networking tool out there and is very popular with corporate and agency recruiters when it comes to locating qualified talent. Again, remember “keywords” are critical – use them in your Summary and list them in the Specialties section. Don’t forget to monitor the Jobs section and take full advantage of all the other nifty job search functions.

Q: I have a few companies I am targeting and would like your option on asking executives at these companies for an informational meeting – what has been your experience with this type of approach – does it work?

A: It depends on how and who you ask. I know of a PhD grad that targeted a pharmaceutical company she was very interested in. She sent an email to one of the executives asking if he would mind taking time from his busy schedule to meet with her for the purpose of learning more about the company. He agreed and when they met he asked for a copy of her resume and suggested she send her resume to Human Resources. She sent the resume and sent him a thank you note (letting him know she sent the resume) and the next thing she knew she was being invited in for an interview and yes, received a job offer.

Remember to take one day at a time as one never knows what tomorrow may bring!

Lee Koren. PHR
lkoren@selectionstrategy.com

Sharing this article by Lou Adler
http://linkd.in/18eEMVh

Interesting Article by Gina Cajucom – she is right on – there will be lots of rejection during a job search -“don’t take it personally”……happy reading!!!

Being Rejected

You may have experienced being rejected quite a few times for positions you’ve applied for.  Each time is no better than the one before.  Rejections sting all the time.  Even when you receive tactfully written emails from companies saying they regret not to consider you for the position, you still wish that you had not received them anyway.  After all, no news is bad news when it comes to job application and you would rather not hear the “rejection” notice at all.

Different people react differently to this kind of rejection.  Some will consider this as a challenge or a motivator to do better and prove them wrong.  However, some people might get demoralized and continue to lose confidence.  They may settle for less pay or less attractive role. A client even asked me one time:  “What’s wrong with me?  I thought I was perfect for that role!”

Some people just give up altogether when they see how many people have applied.  Well, no matter how many people lined up for the role, they would definitely hire someone and that someone could very well be you.  Before you begin a litany of everything that is wrong about you, consider that, to some degree, intuition also plays a role in the selection and rating process.

This is why it is important to remember that recruitment, just like any assessment activity, is subject to biases, prejudices, and error in judgment.  Some companies hire unqualified candidates and miss hiring potential stellar performers.  Some companies correct this phenomenon by using specific metrics and highly structured selection process.  “Selection by scoring is a process whereby   selection factor or component run along a scale and is scored by value previously assigned.   Decision is made based on the total score achieved.  Selection by intuition is getting a feel of how a candidate will fit in based on the dynamics of personality that come out in the selection process, either through interviews or role-plays.”  [i]

It is then important for job seekers not to take this kind of rejection personally.  It is not about you.  It is about the unique demands of the position that the company needs to fill.  Sometimes, it is even about the corporate culture that the hiring company needs to consider. At the end of the day, wherever you end up in is the perfect place for you. Not only did you select that company but that company chose you.


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