Four signs that your job search is in trouble – and how to fix it

Job searching can be lonely business, with very little feedback built into the process. Most of the time, companies don’t even acknowledge receiving your application, let alone letting you know when you won’t be considered for the job. With all of this radio silence, how can you tell if your job search strategies are really working or not?

Fortunately, there are some key metrics and signs to consider to gauge your effectiveness.

You aren’t getting phone interviews.

Of course, this is the most obvious sign that your job search is struggling. If the phone never rings, there is something seriously wrong. However, you should also consider the success rate. If your resume is doing its job, you should be getting at least one phone interview for every 10- 20 applications that you complete. If it’s been more than 20 applications since you had an interview, you really need to evaluate your resume and make sure that you are using the right key words, achievements, and relevant duties to survive HR’s screening process.

You only give HR the minimum required.

Ever see a job application that says “cover letter optional?” If you choose not to send one, you lost a golden opportunity – not to mention that you probably just got screened out. Think about it: if they have 200 applicants for the job and only 75 bothered to go above submitting the minimum, they will consider the candidates who go the extra mile first.

Another version of this issue is present on LinkedIn. When posting a job on LinkedIn, the employers have the option to accept applications directly through the site. In that case, your profile serves as your resume. HOWEVER, you do have the option to upload a Word or PDF version of your resume. Once again, those candidates who do the extra steps tend to rank higher.

You aren’t reaching out to hiring managers.

Thanks to many resources online, it is actually easier than ever to track down hiring managers. Of course, LinkedIn’s Advanced Search features and Company Pages should be some of your go-to tools, but other websites like www.ZoomInfo.com or www.TheOfficialBoard.com offer real-world data and insight into the leadership of key companies across the US. ZoomInfo is particularly helpful, as it often lists the direct contact information for the managers and other employees.

Don’t forget scouring the company’s own website and conducting intelligent Google searches to determine the top managers. Local business news magazines like the Denver Business Journal or the Colorado Business Magazine offer sourcebooks or lists for top companies, many with key contacts.  Can’t afford one of their subscriptions? Check the local library for the print versions.

The point is that you want to do more than just apply through the HR application process and hope for the best. Get your resume directly to the managers to make a positive impact.

You aren’t networking – either in person or online.

Networking is still an essential piece of the job search. Fortunately, this also includes proactive networking on LinkedIn, either through directly connecting with people or by getting involved in the Groups. Networking should always be a proactive approach. Start by posting quality content in the Groups to build your reputation. That way, when you start reaching out to individuals, they can see the quality of your content and more likely to accept your invitations.

When networking in person, consider different types of groups. While leads groups are great for businesses, they don’t work well for job seekers. Instead, consider professional associations, professional development groups that focus on building the members’ skills, job seeker groups, and even social groups. www.MeetUp.com can be a great resource for discovering all of these groups in your area. The key is to get out and actually meet with people face-to-face.

is your resume hitting it out of the park

Is your resume striking out or knocking it out of the park?

The job seeker steps up to the plate. You can feel the determination coming off of him like waves spreading across the field. The HR manager pitches the job, a hard fast ball that flies past the job seeker, who just misses it. Setting up for the second pitch now, a deceiving curve ball.  The job seeker swings hard and fans it, catching nothing but air.  It’s all riding on this final pitch.  Another fast ball, but all he does is watch it sail across the plate to have the umpire call the last strike.

Ever feel like that when sending your resume out to employers? When looking for a new job or opportunity, it can feel like the bottom of the 9th and the entire game is riding on your shoulders.

Follow these simple tips to knock your job search out of the park!

Batter on deck

Having a solid resume is very much like having a quality bat. You never see professional ball players at the plate with a whiffle Ball bat; it wouldn’t be able to compete. Nor do you see them trying to swing something they can’t lift.

Your resume is very similar. If your resume is lacking critical information and key words, it acts like a light piece of plastic that shatters on contact with a professional pitcher on the mound. If your resume is overloaded superfluous fluff or excessively old work history, it becomes slow and unwieldy in the hands of anything less than a superhuman.

When writing your resumes and cover letters, be sure to include things like contact information, key skills specific to the target job, and relevant duties. Don’t forget to highlight past achievements, such as sales metrics, customer volume, call volume, awards, and any other quantifiable metric appropriate for your target job.

One of the latest trends in modern resumes is to “get to the point.” Recruiters and hiring managers alike need to understand your strengths and abilities within 30 seconds.  If your resume is filled with too much padding just to be fancy, you can easily strike out.

Gotta swing to be a hitter

In baseball, the Strike Zone is based on the batter’s height and the width of the plate. Every batter’s ideal pitch is different, much like every job seeker’s ideal job is different. When considering different positions, think of each one as their own pitch. Something outside of your strike zone – for example, way out of your skill set, experience, or education – is not something you should swing at. Typically, HR uses those differentiators to determine their top candidates.

HOWEVER, you can’t tell what the top qualifications are just by reading the job description.  In every job posting, there are factors that the employers value more than others. For these reasons, you should apply to any job that catches your interest, especially if you hold most of the skills and experience desired.  You gotta swing to be a hitter!

Transitioning to a new role or industry?  Remember, HR tends to be pretty literal in screening candidates based on key words and qualifications, just like the umpire calling each pitch.  HOWEVER, you can still land a new job by reaching out to the hiring managers directly.  Many successful major league players are known for chasing a pitch outside of their normal strike zone and turning it into a single, double, triple, or even a home run.  The trick is knowing that they can make it work – and then proving it to the world.

Step into the box

Even before seeing a pitch, a baseball player performs a unique ritual as he steps into the batter’s box to get fully focused.  When the pitch comes screaming at him at 90 miles an hour, he is so focused that he can see the stiches on the ball.  As it gets into range, he raises his front foot, twists up from the feet and drives that sucker into the ball. He uses his whole body to drive power into the bat and launch that ball into the stratosphere.

Technique matters for job seekers too. Just doing the minimal effort when applying to a job is like swinging a bat with noodle arms.  If you really want to get an employer’s attention, track down the HR manager or even connect with higher-ups in your target companies using things like LinkedIn. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” is very much alive in this day and age. Exercise the muscles of your network to fully engage all of your strengths to hit it out of the park.

 

 

 

 

Spring has sprung (almost)

Spring may not “officially” be in season quite yet, but that all changes this upcoming weekend. Soon there will be fluffy bunnies, robins, flowers in bloom and leaves on the trees that spent their winter dormant waiting for this moment.

We humans have a tendency to “hibernate” in the winter seasons, preferring to stay indoors where it is nice and toasty, binge watching Netflix and feasting during the holiday seasons. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but our homes tend to get kind of gross in that period of time. Thusly did spring cleaning become a thing.

Every spring, you can find spring cleaning messages in advertisements online and on television, even the radio if you can tolerate the commercials.

“Woah, hold on there a minute, James,” you may be saying, “What does that have to do with careers?”

Well, random person whom I have never met, yet seem to be able to voice in a static writing…everything!

We are creatures of habits and patterns. Every spring, we clean up our living spaces. Plants and animals go through changes, so we strive for a change ourselves. Many job seekers start looking for a career shift around this time of year, riding the optimism carried by the bright flowers and birdsongs. However, many job seekers do not apply the aforementioned spring cleaning bug to their resumes and other career documents.

Your resume, cover letter and even your LinkedIn profile can grow just as stagnant in the winter seasons as your living space. You grow comfortable with it. You may no longer see where it may need to be cleaned up and changed. Well, time to dust those suckers off and get to work!

1.    Resume

Even if you have recently updated your resume, you want to make sure it is as current as possible. Did you take on additional responsibilities at your current position? Did you recently leave a position? Did you move? Change your phone number? These are just the basics in terms of editing your resume, but if you don’t address the basics first, you are basically shooting yourself in the foot.

Your current resume should focus on the last 10-15 years of career experience and development or in your current industry. Take a look at some of the job descriptions for the job title you are looking at getting in your next career move. How much experience do they require? What skills are all of the job descriptions looking for? Use this as a road map for updating your resume that you send out to employers.

2.    Master Resume / Application

This is a little different than your resume. A summary of your employment history is modeled after your resume, but includes a few extra details, such as the employer’s address, your supervisor, contact information, starting/ending salary and reason for leaving.

This kind of document is a fantastic tool for interviewing, but also useful for filling out online applications. When it comes time for interviews, have this document with you and ready, and a lot of that pre-interview stress will be mitigated.

Use this template:

Company         Dates Worked

Job Title

Address

Supervisor Name, Title, Contact information

Starting Salary:

Ending Salary:

Reason for Leaving:

 

Example:

 

Private Company, LLC 9/2011 to 4/2014

Private Chef to Mr. and Mrs. John Successful

Confidential Work Location, Any town, USA

Jane Smith, HR Coordinator, 123 Main Street, Any town, USA, (123) 456-7890, jsmith@email.com

Starting Salary: 87,500/year

Ending Salary: 98,000/year plus discretionary bonus

Reason for Leaving: Spouse relocated to San Francisco, CA

3.    Cover Letters

Like a great suit, everyone should have more than one cover letter.  Ideally, you would write a fresh cover letter for each job, or at least have three or four letters that you can easily adapt to job postings.  Have a few that are ready for a quick tweak, especially for an email message.  Do not forget to put in extra effort to customize the letter for your dream job. Including research specific to that employer or situation will help you stand out from the other applicants. This applies to follow-up letters and thank you letters as well.

4.    Reference List

Rather than stating “references available on request” on your resume, have a prepared reference list.  This is a single document that includes three or four professional references and up to three character references. Ideally, you want to select people who would be willing to speak with a potential employer, discussing you, your achievements and the attributes that make you the best candidate for the job at hand.  If a written recommendation letter exists from an individual and you plan to add it to your application package, make a note of it on this list.

 

In fact, when was the last time you communicated with the people on your list?  Now is a good time to reconnect.  Find out what they are up to and fill them in on all the happenings in your life.  If a colleague mentioned writing you a recommendation letter the last time you spoke, then follow-up on their offer.  Make it easy for them by directing them to your LinkedIn profile.

5.    LinkedIn

Speaking of LinkedIn, once you have finished up your polishing of your other documents, your profile is a great next step, especially if you plan to use it you reconnect with your references. With LinkedIn, you can update any of the information you changed on your resume, naturally, but you will also want to talk to people in your network and strengthening those professional relationships. Get recommended, ask your references and others to endorse your skills and do the same for them. Trust me, it goes a long way.

Need more help with LinkedIn? Check out our free and paid webinars on Eventbrite, HERE

 

Just clean up your career documents a little this spring. Follow this guide, and you will be sure to get more out of your resume, cover letter and profile than you have been.

 

 

 

Safety tips for your job search

Scammers are preying on desperate job seekers.  Are you conducting a safe job search?

One of my Denver clients recently called me with an unfortunate but common problem:

“I just got called by the police – they discovered an identity theft ring which had stolen my information from an online job application,” he said, totally despondent and heartbroken.  “I guess I’m lucky because the cops caught them, but I still have to deal with cleaning up the mess they made…”

In the past year, identity thefts and other scams that target job seekers has seen a sharp increase.  It is estimated that 50-70% of job ads on craigslist.com are fraudulent.  Compared to a rate of approximately 30% in 2008, it is easy to see that the thieves are banking on the desperation of the job seekers.

Fortunately, you can easily protect yourself from such scams.

Protect Your Information

One of the common tricks is to direct job seekers to an online application.  While many legitimate companies use online applications, or Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), look out for ones that require too much personal information.

If the application asks for any of this information, do NOT fill it in:

  • ·         Social Security number
  • ·         Birth Date (they should only ask if you are over 18)
  • ·         Bank account information (often disguised as trying to set up your direct deposit)
  • ·         Mother’s maiden name (often needed to establish credit)
  • ·         Previous names used
  • ·         Insistence on full salary history when you apply

If you are still interested in the job after running into these requests, call the company first. Sometimes legitimate companies will ask for these details, especially the salary history.  For example, the private service industry will frequently ask for some of these details, especially since they are recruiting people to work in private homes.

However, if you are suspicious about any opportunity, look for ways to talk to an actual person at the company, even if it is only the receptionist to verify that the job listing is real.  If the company’s name is not listed on the website, definitely run the other way.

A New Twist: Cloned Job Postings

The other day my husband called me to verify a customer service job he saw posted on Indeed.com.  This was for an advanced customer advocate with a stated salary range of over $60,000 – obviously, much higher than the typical rate.  The problem?  The job posting was a clone that led to a dummy application system.

What the scammers did was find a legitimate job in another state, copied it, and pasted into the Denver job listings.  The website with the application used the original company’s logo and descriptions, but it didn’t have the supporting pages built around the rest of the site.

How did I find this out?  I went to the real company’s main website, which I found through Google.  They only had this same job available in Ohio and Tennessee, but certainly not for a Denver call center.  Had my husband filled out the fake application, I’m sure we would be dealing with some identity theft today.

Private Resume Posting

Scammers are also contacting people who place their resumes online.  Generally speaking, do NOT post your resume online unless you can do so in a completely private manner.

For example, when you load up your resume on Monster.com or CareerBuilder.com, you do have the option to list it as “Private.”  This means that your resume will not show up in a general search of the data base – only jobs that you actually apply to will receive your information.

Recruiters pay money to search the data bases, which is also known as data mining.  However, these jobs tend to be high-turnover jobs, such as 100% commission sales jobs.  You won’t be missing many great opportunities by posting your resume privately.

A private setting not only protects you from thieves that pay to search resumes, it will also decrease the amount of spam job listings that are targeting you.  Want to get rid of the pesky “opportunity to own an insurance franchise?” Only post your resume privately.

In cases like Craigslist that offers no privacy settings on resume posting, do not post your resume at all.  If you choose to upload a Word or PDF version of your resume onto your LinkedIn profile, be sure to remove your contact information first.

Don’t Accept Packages

Another twist from scammers is the offer to help someone run their purchasing business.  Usually coming from someone across the country or who “travels a lot,” the job sounds like a great way to make part time money.  All you have to do is receive the packages and ship them forward.

The first few deals may work out.  However, as you “prove yourself” on the job, you may get asked to make purchases on the employer’s behalf, with a promise to pay you back plus interest. Here the scam can run two ways: either you never get reimbursed or the employer asks for your banking information to send you money.

Anytime someone asks for banking information is a bad sign…

Legitimate professional shoppers or art dealers do not operate this way. They already have a network that they use for these services.

Work at Home

While there are many legitimate work-at-home opportunities, you do need to be careful.  Here are some of the common work-at-home scams:

  • ·         You have to pay for training
  • ·         You have to buy materials to assemble items for resale (either you can’t sell the items, or the “employer” won’t pay you for the work performed)
  • ·         Bogus direct deposit forms

If you are serious about a work-from-home opportunity, check out Flexjobs.com.  While you do have to pay to see the full jobs listings, Flexjobs researches each and every job to make sure they are a legitimate offering from a real company.

Check Their Reputation

Before you apply for any job, you should research the company.  In particular, resources like Colorado’s Better Business Bureau, local Chambers of Commerce (including the internet Chambers of Commerce) and local news sources like the Denver Business Journal all carry information on local businesses.  In the case of the Better Business Bureau, they have free information on most of the businesses, whether they are members or not.  Seeing the number of complaints – or a lack of records – are all indications that a potential employer is not on the level.

One of my favorite tools for checking out companies is a simple Google search.  Try “company name scam,” or “company name reputation,” or “company name reviews.”  What I like about this tactic is that it will also reveal real companies that have a negative reputation or bad company culture.  After all, the job may be real, but you may not want it.

Use Common Sense

While the job search may be driving you crazy, don’t let desperation override your common sense.  If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Building and Protecting Your Reputation

As my friend and trusted business advisor Denny Basham of Subsilio Consulting says, “Reputation matters.”  Never has this been truer in business than it is today.  With Google at everyone’s fingertips and reviews available for everything under the sun, both the business owner and the job seeker need to be very conscious of what their reputation is.

 

Why does reputation matter?

In today’s marketplace, it’s very easy to find out a lot of information about individuals as well as businesses.  For job seekers, this equates the need to build positive, online reviews – just like a proactive reputation marketing campaign is important to a business.  One place we see this is on LinkedIn.

It is now standard practice for recruiters and managers to check out a candidate’s LinkedIn profile before offering them an interview.  Some of the main things they are looking for are the Recommendations, the size of the candidate’s network, the Endorsements, and his or her Groups.  All of this additional information gives insight into the candidate beyond just the resume.  Of these, the written Recommendations matter the most.  Endorsements for skills may be valuable key words, but when one of your connections actually writes a paragraph or two about your work, the recruiters will take notice.

Finally, one piece of the online reputation is consistency – if the work history is widely different than what was received in the resume, this reflects poorly on the candidate.  Of course, the work history and a LinkedIn profile shouldn’t be just a verbatim listing from the resume.  However, if dates, locations, company names, and other facts are inconsistent, it makes the job seeker look like they lack attention to detail.

Action builds reputations

Another factor that recruiters and managers check is how involved a candidate is online.  If he or she only has 20 connections and isn’t involved in the Groups, this doesn’t reflect well on how much they are willing to contribute to the industry as a whole.

Whenever you post a discussion or reply to a conversation, you are building your reputation within that Group.  Obviously, intelligent conversation is preferred, but sometimes just being involved is enough.  Of course, if you have something negative to say, don’t say it online!

Defending your reputation

Sometimes, things go sideways and your reputation may be attacked.  This happened to me recently.  One of my clients let me know that a former past connection of mine was tearing apart my work, stating that he would never get a job because he was following my advice.  This was especially hurtful because I have supported this business owner and his endeavors for years – both verbally and online.  Of course, my first reaction was to retaliate; thank goodness I’ve been self-trained to have greater restraint than that.

When faced with a reputation attack, first consider:

  1. The source – does this person have their own reputation problems or history of attacking people? If so, don’t take ownership of their character defects.
  2. Is it true? If yes, take the necessary actions to correct the behavior.  If not, think about what you can do to build on your positive reputation.

Now that the main questions have been addressed, come up with a plan to deal with the tarnishing event.  Your course of action may include:

  • Do nothing and let this person’s own karma catch up with them.
  • Reach out to your network and promote a positive achievement, idea, or action to counteract the reputation hit.
  • Journal writing about the incident. It’s normal to be mad or upset about the situation, but you don’t want to accidentally post a negative attack online or in an email that could come back to haunt you.

One of my mottos for my company is “Act with Honor.”  When faced with a reputation attack, I must keep this commitment first in my mind.  It’s very tempting to react to anger and bitterness with more of the same, but rarely does it lead to positive results – in business or in life.

A most triumphant job search

“Bill: Ted, while I agree that, in time, our band will be most triumphant, the truth is, Wyld Stallyns will never be a super band until we have Eddie Van Halen on guitar.

Ted: Yes, Bill. But, I do not believe we will get Eddie Van Halen until we have a triumphant video.

Bill: Ted, it’s pointless to have a triumphant video before we even have decent instruments.

Ted: Well, how can we have decent instruments when we don’t really even know how to play?

Bill: That is why we NEED Eddie Van Halen!

Ted: And THAT is why we need a triumphant video.

Bill, Ted: EXCELLENT!”

-Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989), Orion Pictures

Do you ever feel that way in a job search? I know I have, especially when looking for a dream job. Sometimes, the task feels so daunting that it seems you will never make it into the position unless you have a veritable rock-god on your side to help you along.

The problem with that line of logic is that it is entirely unrealistic. While great for laughs as two underachievers with a dream stumble through time to finish a history report, it is not all that helpful to you and your job search. The fact is, you are likely already skilled at your chosen profession (unlike Bill and Ted, who at this point didn’t even know how to play their instruments).

However, you can still find yourself in a similar trap while working the job hunt. How do you present yourself in a job search most triumphantly? Who is this Eddie Van Halen, and why do you need him? How do you turn a bogus job search into a non-heinous and most excellent adventure?

1.    Which comes first, the video or the Halen?

Before starting your job search, you need to ensure that your career documents are in order. Updating your work history, education, and contact information is one of the first and easiest things you can do with your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. These are all the core components of your “Triumphant Video.”

But in order to make it truly triumphant, there are a few extra steps you can take that will go a long way towards helping you land your dream job. Ensure that your LinkedIn profile, resume, and cover letter are “Key-word optimized.” By using the same key-words employers are searching, your resume is more likely to pass through their screening software be read by an actual person.  Here at Personal Touch, we use our Key Element Detector™ to identify these industry-specific key-words and work them into our resumes.

Once you have triumphant career documents, you are ready to get your own Eddie Van Halen.

2.    Eddie Van Halen?

Eddie Van Halen, arguably one of the best guitarists on the planet, is unfortunately not likely to get you a job. Being a rock god demands a lot of time.

Your Eddie Van Halen will instead be someone who has a certain amount of influence in your target job. By searching websites like LinkedIn, you can connect with company owners, C level executives, hiring managers, or other employees who are affiliated with your industry and/or target companies.

Connecting with these people over social media sites can help you to learn more about the company to which you are looking to apply. The old saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” applies here. We live in a day and age of amazing technology that allows us to connect with people around the world in seconds. Take the time and make those connections, and you won’t regret it.

Who knows? You might actually get Eddie Van Halen!

3.    Party on, Dudes

Armed with a most excellent resume and a collection of righteous dudes from around the world to vouch for you, your job search will be easier and smoother than you could have possibly hoped. In the words of the great President Abraham Lincoln:

“Fourscore and… seven minutes ago… we, your forefathers, were brought forth upon a most excellent adventure conceived by our new friends, Bill… and Ted. These two great gentlemen are dedicated to a proposition which was true in my time, just as it’s true today. Be excellent to each other. And… PARTY ON, DUDES!”

-Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989,) Orion Pictures

There is profound wisdom in that. “Be excellent to each other,” as a philosophy, is a similar statement to “Do onto others…” or the Golden Rule. To strive for excellence and to treat others with excellence and respect is a noble pursuit. Applying that same philosophy to a job search allows you to cultivate positive attitudes with the people whom you associate with, in turn increasing the likelihood that they do the same for you. While looking for a job, having persons wishing excellence for you and actively trying to help you achieve it is a rare commodity these days.

Party on, dudes.

The Career Awakens

 

It’s that time of year again. Jobs will soon be flooding the market like a sudden invasion by the First Order. Now that the holidays are over, employers are looking to revitalize their staff with new people. Some even go as far as to hire recruiters for their skills as bounty hunters. During a job search, employers often feel like faceless entities or insurmountable empires.

So, how does the average job seeker face these kinds of odds (approx. 3720 to 1) and compete with other job seekers in a busy, fast paced market? How does one person outwit the cunning hiring manager and their advanced computer screening systems? How do you awaken your career and get the job you really want?

Answers, you shall find, young Padiwan.

1.    Preparation and Tools of the Jedi Job Seeker

Before tearing off into the frontier of job postings, work on your job searching tools, including your resume, social media profiles and employment website settings. Your resume is your lightsaber, one of the most crucial tools of the Jedi. Your social media profiles, including LinkedIn, are your Millennium Falcon, able to get you in contact with actual hiring managers of the companies you are applying to in less than 12 Parsecs. If any of these are in a poor state, you will be cut down by the insidious HR department long before you ever speak to a single person at the target company.

The January hiring surge is short – learn everything you can about the hiring process itself to become a competitive candidate.  Remember, you are literally fighting hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants for every job. Make the most of every opportunity.

2.    Know the Mission. Know the Enemy

The rebels never would have blown up both Death Stars if they had not known the weaknesses of the Empire and their engineering. The key for you and the job search is to actually research your target employers. The more you know about the company, the better off you will be when it comes time to interview with them. Not to mention that research is the best way to discover and contact the key managers involved in the hiring decision.  Plus, research give you clarity about the company’s culture and work environment.

Start off by selecting and researching at least 10 potential employers each week, even if they don’t have any posted jobs yet.  Research includes finding out about their business, the size, where they post jobs and key managers and employees. Of course, add companies that have posted positions that peak your interest as well.

Work on building your LinkedIn network to create some connections within these target employers.  Your social network is essentially your rebel alliance. This is your support, your connections, and sometimes direct lines to your target companies.

3.    The Jedi Job Seeker Code

“There is no emotion, there is peace…”

First of all, don’t let your emotions rule your job search.  This can be a challenge, as finding a great position can be invigorating.  Similarly, receiving the rejection email can be a devastating blow.  Try to keep an even keel during your job search so you don’t lose your perspective.

“There is no ignorance, there is knowledge…”

Just blinding applying to jobs without research is to barrel forward in ignorance.  Take the time to learn about your targets to make the most of every single job application and submitted resume.  Similarly, educate yourself about the hiring process to empower your own job search.  Knowing the tricks and traps is the best way to avoid HR’s sarlacc pit that consumes most resumes.

“There is no passion, there is serenity…”

Sorry, Jedi, but here I have to disagree.  Passion is paramount in the job search.  Smart managers hire people who are passionate about what they do.  Traditionally speaking, the passionate employee with produce better work, stay longer, be more committed, call in less, and is in general a better hire.  Don’t be afraid to express your passion in your cover letter, your resume, and the interview.

“There is no chaos, there is harmony…”

A job search conduct in chaos is not effective.  This means that frantically applying to jobs over your lunch hour is not going to work.  Set aside time every day to work on your search, including creating a space within your home dedicated to this purpose.  Still the mind and let go of your anxieties and stresses of the day before tackling something like writing your resume or starting a complex online application.  Just a few calming breaths to reset the mind can make a world of difference.

“There is no death, there is the Force.”

Death is but a transformation, including job changes, career transitions, and new opportunities.  To be effective, we have to let go of the former life to experience the new one.  In many ways, this is aligning ourselves with our higher selves – if we work towards it and allow it to happen.

 

 

 

hiring process infographic for private service and domestic staffing

Making sense of the hiring process: an infographic

For many private service professionals, the recruitment agency is a vital piece of their job search.  Employers frequently reach out the agency to list their positions, trusting them to make the best match based on experience, skills, and personality.  However, not all of the candidates understand exactly what goes into that hiring process.

Check out the infographic to learn more about the multiple phases required to secure a top position in the luxury lifestyle management industry…

hiring process infographic for private service and domestic staffing

Using diversity to evaluate company culture

In the modern world of job searching, finding a position that is a good match has more to do with company culture than any other factor.  However, many job seekers don’t know what to look for when trying to determine the workplace culture.  Some things are obvious, such as the physical aspects of the work environment – for example, many introverts are not comfortable working in an “open office” design, where there is very little separation from one person’s workspace to another. However, how can you gauge the real flavor of the office during the interview phase?

One of the biggest indicators of a company culture falls back into the importance of diversity.

Defining workplace diversity

According to BusinessDictionary.com, diversity is defined as “similarities and differences among employees in terms of age, cultural background, physical abilities and disabilities, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation.” (Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/workforce-diversity.html#ixzz3teUk7q1G)

When interviewing with a company, take note on if they have a diverse workforce.  Smart companies understand that it can take an extra effort to hire a diverse workforce, but it also helps them gain a competitive advantage as the company’s culture becomes more flexible thanks to the diverse points of view.

Diversity of thought

There is another aspect of diversity that is not as readily apparent as the outward physical characteristics.  This is the “diversity of thought,” which reflects how the employees actually think and approach their work.  For a real forward-thinking company, it is necessary to employ people who actually offer different perspectives in how to solve problems or to apply their area of expertise.

For example, in one of my past roles, I provided the recruitment for a small business in the Denver area.  The original founders of the company were brilliant engineers, who also happened to be some of the most introverted people I had ever met.  When it came time to hire new employees, they heavily favored candidates just like them, regardless of the role.  They valued an engineering background above all other qualities, having convinced themselves that their products were so technically complex that only engineers could properly represent what they were manufacturing.

However, problems quickly arose once the company tried to expand.  They hired several Sales Engineers – again, emphasizing the engineering aspect.  Unfortunately, they failed to understand that they really needed smart SALES people who could be trained in the technical benefits of their products.  The core problem here is that people who are drawn to sales usually have an entirely different set of soft skills and personality traits than engineers.  By only hiring engineers, their sales continued to slump to the point that the company struggled to survive.

Diversity of roles

Another common problem that a company may face is hiring too many managers.  While many people know about the challenges of large companies generating a wide base of middle-level managers, this issue can impact small companies as well.

For example, another small company that I worked with had 70% of their workforce with the phrase Manager, Director, or Vice President in their title.  Out of all 10 employees, only 3 of them were actual “boots on the ground” employees, performing the day-to-day work of the company.  Even when the company decided to expand their operations, they hired another Vice President rather than a team of employees to provide the heavy lifting to get the new venture off the ground and profitable.

When interviewing with a new potential employer, be sure to ask about their company structure and how many managers would be in place over you.  If the company is extremely top-heavy, it could be an indicator of problems to come.

Practicing diversity

Finally, take note of how well a company actually implements their diversity programs.  Some companies may make a real effort to hire diverse teams, yet struggle to retain those same staff members.  Rarely is this because of blatant racism or other discriminatory actions, but more of a case of just not thinking about things from the other person’s point-of-view.

For example, with one of my past positions, I had a wonderful assistant who just happened to be Jewish.  On December 1st, the owner of the company told her she had to put up all of the Christmas decorations for the office.  Of course, she wasn’t very pleased with this directive; however, she did as she was asked.

The real problem started when the owner came by to review her work and proceeded to complain loudly that the decorations weren’t done correctly.  My assistant defended her ground, pointing out that she had never put up a Christmas tree before and really didn’t understand what this was all about.

I almost lost my outstanding assistant that day, as she was ready to walk off of the job based on the insensitivity of the owner.  In the end, I finished the decorations because keeping her on my team was critical to our long-term success.

Knowing where you fit

Diversity can be a great indicator of the workplace culture for any job.  Along those lines, it’s important to define what you are looking for in an employer.  Do you want a loud, fast-paced collaborative environment where you can bounce a lot of ideas between team members?  Or do you favor a quiet workplace where you can concentrate on your tasks with little interruption?  Are you driven to meet new people or do you prefer to work alone?

By defining the elements of company culture that appeal to you the most, you are more likely to identify the opportunity when it comes along.  And remember, diversity in all of its forms can be one of the best subtle and covert ways to gauge company culture during the interview process.

Simplify your life with a Personal Assistant

Personal assistant finding her center

The right PA can bring order to any chaos

What would you do with your life if you had more time to enjoy it?  Between the demands at the office and the home, everyone gets stretched thin.  Add in the important factors of professional associations, non-profit boards, children’s schedules, and the ever-present unexpected twists of a busy life, it can be downright maddening.  Fortunately, there is a dedicated, efficient, and organized solution: the professional Personal Assistant.

Bridging the gap between the home and the office, a Personal Assistant can tackle everything from representing you at non-profit board meetings to organizing your closets.  This specialized administrative professional utilizes all of the latest technological advances to maintain comprehensive calendars that merge your business, personal, and family members’ schedules – and can do it on the fly.  Too busy to handle crucial errands like shopping, dry cleaning, and vehicle maintenance?  The Personal Assistant can not only perform the work, he or she will also memorize your favorites and preferences, making sure that everything is done to your standard of perfection.

While all Personal Assistants are focused on making your life easier, there are different levels available to fit your particular needs and lifestyle:

The Executive Personal Assistant

Often working within the business office, the Executive PA is the pinnacle of personal assistance.  Not only can this trusted right hand manage all of the duties of the typical, high-level Executive Assistant, he or she extends these services to the needs of your personal life or properties.  Frequently, this includes helping with non-profits, from Board meetings to the planning and execution of large scale fundraising events.  The EPA works very closely with the employer, which may include traveling with the principal for extended periods, both domestically and internationally.

Most EPAs possess extensive experience in business, often serving as an Executive Assistant for C-Level executives for many years before adding coordination of personal affairs to their repertoire.

The Personal Assistant

Instead of being attached to the office, the Personal Assistant is more closely related to the concerns of a single person or persons and their home.  Ideal for anyone with a busy lifestyle, the PA is a trusted partner in meeting all of those obligations. Some of the typical responsibilities include personal shopping, event planning, calendar coordination, travel planning, and even domestic staff management.  As each job is customized to meet the particular needs of the employer, the PA is the epitome of flexibility and adaptability.

Since these jobs are so unique, PAs may come from many backgrounds, such as event planners, concierge, hospitality, administrative assistants, and professional organizers.  Regardless of their history, all true PAs are masters of technology, using everything from Microsoft Office programs to mobile devices to stay on top of all the demands of their employers.

The Family Assistant

For households who may not need a full Personal Assistant, a Family Assistant is a great solution.  Many times, a FA may help care for older children after school, coordinating their activities and appointments. During the day, they handle the essential “business” of the home: budgets, shopping, home organization, social obligations, and home maintenance coordination.  While they usually don’t perform the housekeeping or cooking beyond light housework, they do manage the staff or contractors who do.

Hiring Your New Right Hand

When considering hiring a new EPA, PA, or FA, start with making a job description.  While it may evolve over time, you need to define what areas you need covered to accurately evaluate candidates.  Next, think about the level of technical skills required.  For example, do you need an expert with Microsoft Office and cloud computing, or can everything be accomplished with your iPad? Should they be an experienced event planner, or does errands and personal shopping fit your needs better? Depending on these requirements, your salary range should be competitive in the market to attract the right candidates.

Next, think about security concerns.  When hiring anyone who will be involved with your personal affairs and family members, be sure to run complete background checks, including criminal and credit checks.  Consider using testing measures as well, not only for their technical skills but also personality traits.  After all, this is someone that you will be working with closely, and you want to make sure that their personality is compatible with yours.

Many times, private employers turn to specialized employment agencies to help with their search.  In that case, do expect to pay a fee on top of the annual salary. However, keep in mind that these agents are experts in the private service industry.  As such, they can help with every phase of the job search, from developing a workable job description to conducting comprehensive background and reference checks.  Most agents are contingency-based, meaning that the placement fee is only paid when the new PA is hired.  Some, like the Personal Touch Recruitment, offers retained searches as well as contingency hiring.  In that case, the agent acts as your own personal HR department.

A Vision for You

Thanks to the help of a talented Personal Assistant, you gain the most precious commodity: time.  Time to spend with your family, your work, and your true passions – like more golf!

 

About the Author

Donna Shannon is the President of Personal Touch Recruitment Services, a boutique agency that helps private employers find and onboard elite professionals such as Personal Assistants and Household Managers. For over 10 years, she has worked closely with the luxury lifestyle management industry, both as a recruiter and as a career coach for private service professionals.  To find out more about Personal Touch Recruiting and all of their services, please visit:

www.personaltouchcareerservices.com/recruitment

Page 4 of 15 «...23456...»
UA-63141538-1