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Friday, July 19, 2013

4 Lessons Employees Should Have Learned During the Resession

According to Wikipedia, The Great Recession started in December 2007 and officially came to an end June 2009. If you take a deeper look at some of the historical data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (, unemployment in December of 2006 was 4.4%, and by the end of 2009 this number had reached a high of 9.9%. Since December 2009, this number has continued to fluctuate, but does have a steady trend of decreasing. I do believe we can expect this number to continue to move down towards a healthier unemployment rate. Everything in life is a learning lesson, and the 3 years of this recession is no exception. Some were fortunate enough to keep their jobs, while others were not so fortunate. When looking back at this time, it is important to take away some life lessons.

1.) Never take anything for granted:  It is never a bad idea to plan for a rainy day, and never stop educating yourself. It is very important in this very competitive job market to keep your skill set fresh, and find ways to grow as a professional. There will always be someone waiting to take your job if you are no longer willing to provide the quality work in which you were hired for. This is true at all levels, no matter how much money you make! If you are able to take pride in the work you do, then I can almost guarantee someone will notice and it will pay off in the long run.

2.) It could always be worse: If you are looking at your life and feel you have it pretty bad, you should know there are those who are less fortunate than you. I once heard a fact in church that was pretty eye opening, and it went something like this; If you have a roof over your head, some sort of food in your fridge, and at least $20 to your name then you are better off than 75% of the world population. Can you imagine that? With just that little to your name, you have it better than so many others.  

3.) Find a hobby or passion: Finding something you like to do on the weekends is not only good to explore additional areas of interest, but this is a great way to exercise your soul! I found my hobby in blogging, and it is a way for me to get out my thoughts on paper, and it has also been a great networking tool. I would not say I am an expert blogger, and at the end of the day it is not so much for the audience, but more for me to reflect on everyday learning and fine tune my recruiting skills!

4.) There is no such thing as overkill in networking: When the recession hit, it was very hard for the average person to find a job. When it is all said and done, it will be your skill set that will land you the position, but it never hurts to have a recommendation from a well respected employee within the company for which you have applied to. Many organizations have come to rely on referrals as a candidate source. With technology being where it is, you have so many different ways to network. If you are more of a shy person, then LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and online forms of networking are great. If you are more outgoing, then finding some MeetUp Groups on or other local user groups may be your best option. As a candidate you have many options when it comes to finding a position, and networking is an important piece to that puzzle.

History repeats its self, and we all need to be prepared when another recession hits. If you are able to take lessons from this last recession, you will be more prepared to fight through the next one.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

5 Steps to a Great Candidate Recruiter Relationship

I have come across many blogs that have expressed a distrust as well as a dislike for the recruiting profession. I will admit, we do have some rotten eggs in our industry, but this can be said in any other profession as well. Is it really necessary to put a whole group of people into one category just because of a few bad apples? The relationship between a recruiter and a candidate goes both ways, and I am not oblivious to the fact that FEEDBACK is the key relationship builder for candidates!! This CareerBuilder survey does an excellent job of summing this up.  Feedback in some form is a very simple request, and I know all recruiters will struggle at times to complete this task. On the flip side, we as a recruiting community have a lot more needs when it comes to developing a good solid working relationship.

1.) Have the right skill set for our client: Recruiters will call you because we feel you have the right background for what our client is looking for. I added this into the criteria, because your skill set is what will entice us to call you in the first place. The relationship needs to start somewhere right?

2.) Do not hide information: You know what I'm referring to here! That little piece of information in the back of your mind that you are debating on weather to share it or not...SHARE IT! In most cases we will figure it out anyway, and it is best to be honest up front. Being dishonest in anything will result in distrust, and distrust is not a good foundation for a solid relationship. 

3.) Say what you mean, and mean what you say: If you say you are going to call us a certain time, then call us at that time. If you say you are going to go on the interview with the client, then go on the interview. If you say you will take the job, then follow through and take the job. If you say you will show up for work on your first day, then please show up for work on that day. I think you get the point...

4.) Do not expect us to take on full responsibility of finding you a job: The reality is that we work with a lot of candidates, and we are paid by the clients we work with and work for. I am someone who loves to help someone out, but I will never take full responsibility for finding you a job. This is a partnership, and it needs to be treated as such. Recruiters can make the initial introduction and connection, but it is up to you to land the opportunity.

5.) Do not quit at the first sign of more money: If you are quick to leave for the first job offer with more money, then you will be quick to burn bridges. Those who chase money will eventually lose in the long run.  The local labor communities are small, and you never know when you will need to rely on someone to provide a good reference for you.

Doesn't seem fair right? Candidates just ask for timely feedback, and we recruiters have 5 steps for a good working relationship.  Nothing brings me more satisfaction then helping my fellow human, but it is a two way street.

Quick Thoughts - Micromanagement

I read an article this week by Suzanne Lucas titled "Why Don't Companies Get Rid of Micro-Managers?"(read the full article here).  The first part of my career, I worked under a couple managers who had this type of management style.  Looking back at this time in my career, I do understand the need for a little micromanagement when an employee is new to a company or new to the workforce.  I believe it is truly the good managers who know when it is time to let their employees loose and trust them to make the right decisions.  In my current position, it is my fear of losing my job if I am not keeping up with the tasks assigned to me.  In my opinion, managers who micro-manage their employees are incapable of flexing to meet the needs of their individual employees.

Everyone skips to the beat of their own tune, some of us need the structure of micromanagement while others will not flourish until they are set free and given the ability to fail.  If you are not failing then you are are not learning, if you are not learning then you are not growing, and if you are not growing then what is the point?

Monday, July 8, 2013

At a Glance - June Unemployment

According to the latest numbers put out by The Department of Labor, the unemployment rate in the month of June has continued to hold steady just under 8%.  This after the Private sector added 202,000 jobs in the month of June.  Below are some quick facts about these numbers published on the Department of Labor Website (

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

On this day 237 years ago, the 13 American colonies came together to sign The Declaration of Independence, and thus giving birth to The United States of America. We as a nation have so much to be thankful for on this day! July 4th is not all about the fireworks and the BBQ, but more about the sacrifices that were made on this day in 1776.

I for one feel truly blessed to be apart of such a great country, and have the freedoms I enjoy on a daily  basis. I'm not saying America is perfect, because that is far from the truth, but I do think the people of this nation are lucky to call The United States home. This is not my typical post, but I thought for this one day we can all sit back relax and enjoy the moment. Lets not worry about work, or finding a new job, or even the interview we have first thing in the morning. Today we can enjoy our family, friends, neighbors, and all fellow Americans.

Sometimes we get lost in the pursuit of happiness, but because of the Nation we live in, we can course correct and take another stab at it tomorrow.  Happiness in this life is not guaranteed, but we as Americans all do have the right to pursue it.

I know for me, happiness is much different from the next person, and it comes in the form of my family.  My wife, my daughter, my son, and my third child who is on the way. Today I am not worried about work, but I am feeling blessed to be an American. Pray for me that I don't burn my house down with fireworks!

God Bless America & Happy 4th of July!!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The 10 DO NOT'S for Job Applicants

Looking for a new job is one of the top three things most stressing in life.  The other two being the death of a loved one and moving.  No matter the circumstances of why an individual is looking for a position, it is always an emotional process.  When you are the person going through this process, you want to make sure you are as prepared as possible to nail the interview and impress the people you are speaking with.  Just as important, you want to be mindful of some bad habits that will make you appear to be the less desirable candidate.

Having interviewed thousands of candidates during my career, I thought I would give my top 10 list of things to avoid doing while looking for a new job!

1.) Do not apply for every job opening you see at one company!

  • How do you think it appears to the company you are applying with, if you are applying for both software development as well as project management?  The best practice when you see multiple positions is to make contact with the company, and express your interest in the multiple positions.  When you are speaking to a live person, you will then be able to express your interest, and explain why you feel you would be a good match.

2.) Do not start your conversation with the recruiter by asking salary/pay rate!

  • This is a major turn off to HR professionals as well as recruiters.  The companies we represent have much more to offer than just a salary and/or pay rate.  If you start the conversation with this question, the first thing a recruiter thinks of is that you will jump at the next opportunity offering you a slight increase in salary.  It is best to wait and get some detail about the position before asking this question.  You should also ask it in an appropriate manner such as: "This position seems to be below my current responsibilities.  Can you give me a pay range on this opportunity?"  

3.) Do not list every job you have ever held on your resume!

  • You only need to list positions relevant to the position in which you are applying for.  It is wasted space on a resume if you are listing positions you held when you were in college.  Can you really justify how your experience as a fry cook can help you gain employment as a desktop support engineer?  Resumes do not need fillers!  You need to list most relevant experience, and keep it short a sweet.  The main purpose of a resume is to entice the employer to want to ask more questions.

4.) Do not list every skill you think you have!

  • Of the thousands of interviews I have completed, I would say nearly 40% of them embellish their skill sets in some way to make themselves appear more desirable to the employer.  Have you ever heard of the bait and switch in retail?  This is the same concept, and it will bite you in the end. If you list something on your resume it may be expected that you will utilize this skill set while employed.  If you are unable or incapable of completing this task, there is a strong possibility you will be back where you started looking for another job and trying to explain why you were let go from your previous position.

5.) Do not show up late for an interview!

  • This can go without explanation.  If you are late, you are wasting the time of the employer interviewing you.  I know this can sometimes be a double standard, but at the end of the day it's the company who signs your paychecks.

6.) Do not speak poorly about your previous employer!

  • This is a major turn off for hiring managers.  If you are sitting in an interview speaking negatively about a previous employer, what is stopping you from doing the same with this employer?  Further, no one wants to hear you sob story regarding why you were fired or why you feel like you are not treated properly.  Take ownership of the situation and explain how you have grown and become a better person/employee because of the situation.

7.) Do not sound desperate during the interview!

  • Explaining to an employer how you will lose your home if you do not get the job offer will NOT give you a better chance at landing the opportunity.  This will actually decrease your chances of being hired.  The time spent in the interview needs to be reserved for selling the employer on why you are a great match for the position as well as the company.

8.) Do not follow up with the company every day demanding feedback!

  • If you are following up on a daily basis, then you are showing desperation (see #7)!  Standard rule is to follow up 1 week after the interview. At that time, feel free to ask when it is appropriate for you to follow up again.  If you have not heard anything after 1-2 weeks, most likely, you are no longer in consideration.

9.) Do not forget to thank the interviewing individuals for their time!

  • The thank you note has become a lost art!  This is not another opportunity to sell yourself, but it is exactly what the title of the letter indicates...thanking the interviewers and/or hiring managers for their time...this includes your recruiter!  Two-three sentences is all it takes to accomplish this task.  Do not get carried away with details.  With the fast paced world we live in, it is okay to send an e-mail, but a hand written note is always preferred.

10.) Do not get angry if you do not get the position you interviewed for!

  • Competition today is very tough.  Rarely is the rejection personal when you do not land the position you are interviewing for.  When you receive the feedback from your interview, take it as a learning lesson on how to improve yourself for future interviews.  Also, it is important to take the time to ask the employer what his/her concern was.  This is invaluable information on how to grow your skill set while simultaneously keeping a pulse on the market.
Nobody is perfect...we all make mistakes.  The more you prepare for your interview, the less likely you will be to make some of the more common errors during the interview process.  Best thing to keep in mind is to stay positive, and take everything as a learning lesson.