3 Steps to Selecting the Right Recruiting Firm

There are certainly no shortages of choices available in the recruitment marketplace. There are mega-firms, boutique firms, regional firms, industry-specific firms, and so many others to take your pick from. Most hiring managers receive a high volume of phone calls from these recruiters, all vying for their business. It can be a bit overwhelming if you’re just trying to figure out where to get started. While there is no shortage of volume out there, it can be quite a task to sift through the competing firms to find the one that best suits your business and your talent needs. However, with a few simple steps, it will be easy to narrow down the numbers and target the firms which will be most effective for you to partner with.

  1.       Follow the Reputation

One of the quickest ways to discern a great firm is to ask your colleagues who they would recommend. This will help you to feel more confident in making the connection, and because you came to them on referral they will have a bit of extra motivation to deliver for you since they are certain to want to receive more referrals down the road. Whether you ask your coworkers or others in your network, be sure to find out who has provided the best talent they’ve seen, and ask if they have been placed by any great firms in the past.

  1.       Get Specific

Recruitment has become increasingly specialized over the years. While some of the big firms still handle the full gambit of searches, most small to midsized firms have some areas of specialization. Ask any firms you are considering if they specialize by region, function, level, or industry. You may find that it’s best to have several different recruiters who you use for different types of positions, so it can be helpful to compile a pipeline of reputable firms who have a variety of focus areas.

  1.       Ask for Metrics

Search firms employ a variety of metrics as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). One of the fastest ways to determine a firm’s effectiveness is to ask them about some of these measurements for success. One of the most telling metrics is the time-to-fill, which indicates how long it takes from the start of a new search until successful placement. Likewise, asking about their offer acceptance rate will give you an idea of how well they close offers once they’ve been made. Any reputable firm should track some kind of metrics, so ask for the numbers when you’re introduced.

By following these three steps, you should be confident in your chosen recruiting partners. Depending on your needs, you may even work with multiple firms simultaneously – it all depends on your business and the roles you need to fill. Use your network to your advantage in narrowing down the options, find firms who have full candidate pipelines in the specialties you’re searching for, and make sure you ask them to quantify their success to ensure that you are making the perfect match every time.

4 Key Questions You Should be Asking Candidates

Every hiring manager wishes they had a crystal ball. Hiring a new employee is a big investment, and there is a certain amount of risk involved any time you make that decision. There will inevitably be times when a poor hiring choice is made, and it’s only natural to wonder if there was some way you could’ve seen it coming. While you probably aren’t going to find a crystal ball that will work for you, there are ways to tell if candidates are going to be the right choice. You simply have to ask the right questions!

  1.       Is there any reason why you wouldn’t take this job?

       This question is a powerful way to uncover any hidden reservations a candidate might have about the role. It is direct and to the point, giving the candidate the opportunity to express any hesitations they might have and you the opportunity to pick up on any potential causes for concern. Asking this of candidates before making an offer can also put you in the best position possible to get an acceptance since you’ll know in advance what obstacles you may need to overcome.

  1.       Walk me through your career – how did you get to where you are today?

       Asking for a step-by-step walkthrough of a person’s career can tell you a lot more than just what they’ve done; it gives you insight into why they have made the moves they made. Have they simply drifted along aimlessly, or has their career been deliberate? Do they seem to be the “victim of circumstance” too often, or have they chosen to make moves on their own? This simple question can give you deep insights into the background and intent of the candidate you’re interviewing.

  1.       Where have you made the biggest impact in your career?

       This is a great question because it gives the candidate plenty of room to maneuver. The subject matter is open to interpretation, leaving your interviewee to speak to what they found most meaningful in their careers without the burden of an overly specific topic to speak to. Their answer should help you gauge what is most important to them and where their strengths have been best applied.

  1.       In a perfect world, what would you do next?

       It’s another open-ended question that can help you draw out the candidate’s motivation further. Asking what they are looking for is also to-the-point enough to help zero in on whether the role you’re considering them for is aligned with their objectives and needs. Giving a candidate the opportunity to speak about their wants can also give you a lot of valuable information that can help you set them up for success if they join your team.

       The common thread that these questions share is that they are all thought provoking and designed to solicit meaningful responses. Communication is the key to discovering potential roadblocks before they can become an issue. From the first interview to the offer letter, you should make it a goal to engage your candidates with meaningful questions that give them the opportunity to tell you what matters to them and to define and qualify their accomplishments.

Send Thanks and Stand Out From the Crowd

It used to be standard to send a thank-you after an interview. While the practice has fallen out of vogue, it is still polite to do so. When you do, it also distinguishes you from the many people who don’t. Industry experts disagree on whether their decision to hire a candidate would change based on getting a thank-you or not. That being said, it’s best to play it safe and actually rise above the many interviewees by sending in a thank-you.

Why is it important?

Really, why does it matter? Sending a thank-you is another way for your interviewer to learn more about you. Are you thoughtful or do you just send a form thank-you? (Don’t do that, by the way.) If you incorporate personal and specific elements, which you should, it will show that you were truly listening during the interview. It’s also just one more way to show your interest and enthusiasm for the job. Sending a thank-you is just good manners.

When should you send one?

Though exact timing varies, most people you would ask would say either the same day or within twenty-four hours. You want the interviewer to be thinking about you and your suitability for the job. Becoming forgettable is never a good thing. This is generally a good time because the interview is still fresh in your mind so you can remember specific things to draw attention to in the thank-you and they still remember who you are.

What format?

Handwritten notes are becoming less and less common, so if you really want to stand out, send one by snail mail. However, if you know that the decision is going to be made quickly, send an email. If you really want to send a handwritten note, you can do both. Send an email and a handwritten note so they have double the reminder of you. Just make sure your handwriting looks nice and is legible on the handwritten note.

Other things to keep in mind:

This is business correspondence, so make sure that you read your message. You don’t want to make a fatal error and misspell the company’s name or find it littered with incorrect grammar. If you’re writing a handwritten note, take the time to write it out on a separate piece of paper first so you can edit it as needed before writing it down on the card. To ensure you’re sending the email/note to the right person and right address, make sure to exchange business cards with those you talk with/interview you. Then you’ll know for sure that you’ve got the right information.

Sending a thank-you note after a poor interview probably won’t snag you the job. However, if you did well at the interview, a thank you might just give you that little nudge that will set you above the rest of the crowd. Sweating the small stuff, like thank-yous, is often what sets you apart from the masses.

Personal Branding and Marketing Yourself

A personal brand is all about what people know you for. Ideally, you want them to associate you with a specific thing, a niche so that when they see or hear your name, they think of success in that area. People need to think of you as a leader or expert in that area. Personal branding is all about finding what you’re good at, prioritizing, putting yourself out there, and sharing what you know with others.

Discover Yourself

So how do you start? Well, it’s not as mystical as it sounds. Very simply, think about what makes you unique. What do you bring to your job, business, the world that is different? What are your strengths? And then combined with that, what do you enjoy doing and are passionate about? You may be good at a certain thing because it was drilled into you, but if it’s not your passion, you won’t stick with it. Make a list of what makes you unique, what your talents are, and then cross-reference that with your passions.

Grow

Now that you’ve figured out what makes you you, grow in that area. Learn about it more, take your strengths to greater heights. Do what you need to become an expert in that area. You need to learn enough, be experienced enough, practice enough to be the go-to person in this area. Your personal brand is no use to you if you can’t do it well or even better than anyone else. This is continuous. You never stop learning, growing, and developing. Doing so is critical to successfully branding yourself.

Prioritize

You know what you’re good at, so don’t let your attention get snagged by other things. Set goals for yourself that are in line with your strengths and uniqueness. Prioritize the growth of your personal brand. Do what it takes to develop it. When other opportunities arise, use your goals as a measure of whether you should pursue them. If they aren’t in line with your priorities and branding, then you can politely decline.

Share

Now that you’ve accumulated all this knowledge, it’s time to put it out there. You will never develop your personal brand if you don’t impart your value to others. Find the platform that works best for you, whether it’s social media, a website, or both and start making noise. Don’t be obnoxious, but participate in discussions, write articles, and generally make it known that you have some knowledge in your area. Use your network to spread the word. By helping people there, they’ll tell others, and so on.

Creating a personal brand is a great asset in today’s business world. It does take work and effort, but it’s not impossible or only available for the elite. In fact, it’s all about becoming one of those elite by being an expert in your niche.

How to Quit Your Job Without Burning Bridges

The time has come. Maybe it’s because of a health reason, a better opportunity, or a lack of growth, but the job you’re at is no longer the one for you. How you quit a job is almost as important as how you enter a new one. Though you may want to go out in a dramatic way, resist the urge and choose a better tactic. Here’s how to quit with dignity.

Be Absolutely Sure

Before you officially quit, make sure that’s what you want to do. Consider the pros and cons of both your job and the one you’re applying for. You don’t want to quit your present job in haste and find yourself regretting it. Avoid that awkward phone call asking for your job back by making absolutely sure that you want to quit in the first place

Get Ready

If you work with a company computer or use a company email, make sure to clear out any personal items. Don’t leave personal emails or documents behind. The same with your desk. Get it somewhat cleared out before you resign. Sometimes your boss will ask you to leave that day rather than taking the two weeks’ notice. If you think that might be the case for you, take the precaution of being ready for that. If you are required to stay for two more weeks, you’ll need to do this anyway.

Write a Resignation Letter

This is the formal and polite way of letting your boss know that you’re leaving. It also provides a record for how you left. It’s very important that you write a polite letter—even if you’ve had it with your job—because that’s something a potential boss can look back on. You don’t want a poor resignation letter following you around for the rest of your career. There are plenty of sample letters out there to look at, so take advantage of the knowledge of those who’ve gone before you.

Be Considerate

Make sure to give an appropriate amount of head’s up. The requirement is generally two weeks. Another good way to promote good will and show consideration is by offering to train your replacement. This will help your boss and will add to your experience. Do your best to make the transition process as painless as possible for both you and your employer.

Don’t Forget the Details

If you have company property of any kind, make a mental note of that so that you can return it. You don’t want to be accused of theft because it slipped your mind as you were leaving. Additionally, be aware that you may have to participate in an exit interview. This gives the company feedback as to how they can improve. Take advantage of this as another opportunity to leave on a good note. Also be aware of any package or paperwork that is involved in your leaving.

Be Thankful

No matter how much you didn’t like your job, there is something you can express your gratitude over. Don’t lie or make something up, but be willing to give credit where credit is due. Don’t miss this last opportunity to keep good relations with your company. You never know when you may need a reference further down the road, or when an interested employer may get in contact with your former boss.

Though it may be difficult, resist the temptation to leave your job in (a briefly) emotionally satisfying way. Just being in a new workplace will have to be enough, because you’ll never know what bridges you may need in the future.

Enrich Your Resume with Your Experience

Being employed for an extended period of time is a good thing. However, you want to avoid appearing out-of-touch or old on your resume. Instead, learn how to phrase your experience as a huge benefit to the company you’re applying at now.

Don’t Stop Learning

A concern that employers have about employees who have worked at the same company for many years is that they don’t continue to learn. Avoid becoming stagnate at all costs. Hopefully, that’s been your goal. List a continued learning or continued education section on your resume. If you were able to go back to school or continue taking classes and earned another degree or certificate, highlight that. Take advantage of your employer’s offer of continuous learning. If that’s not provided, then go with the added expense and pay for added learning yourself.

Highlight Your Positions

Though you’ve been with the same company for some time, you probably haven’t been in the same position for the duration of your stay. Don’t make the mistake of squeezing all your positions into one on your resume. List promotions and extended responsibilities. Show how your company trusted you by promotion or added tasks. This can show how your company valued you, and also any ways you may have worked in a diversified manner.

List Your Accomplishments

Don’t just stop at describing what your positions were like. Did you help your company pull through a dry spell? Be able to describe that, preferably with solid numbers to back up your claim. If you received special recognition or a reward this would be a good place to mention that too. Don’t just say what you did at your job. Describe what you were able to achieve and how that was beneficial to your former employer.

Eliminate Irrelevant Information

Industries are constantly changing, which is good. That’s probably why you’re looking for a new job. Remember that the skills you started off with are probably different from what you have now. Don’t get stuck in the past with irrelevant skills. Instead, check out job postings and see what skills are listed there. If one of yours isn’t, then that ability is probably no longer needed. Draw attention to your other pertinent abilities instead.

Play to Your Strengths

You’ve been in the workforce for a long time at one specific job. That shows commitment and loyalty. Be willing to display that in your resume. Finding new employees, training them, and dealing with the constant flux that is employment these days is costly to a company. Show that you’re a long-haul employee who knows what it means to stick with it through both the lean and good years.

Don’t let your long job history be a drawback. When you update your resume, draw attention to all the benefits that you bring to a company. Experience is an advantage. Play to that as you submit your resume and attend interviews.

6 Tips for a Great Phone Interview

With so many people applying for the same job, phone interviews are still something that employers use to narrow the field a bit more. Understanding how to stand out, even in a phone interview, will greatly help in taking that next step towards the job. Take your phone interview seriously by implementing these six tips.

  1. Prepare

A phone interview is still that: an interview. You need to prepare and think through your responses like you would if you were going to an in-person interview. Make sure to have your resume or CV out and handy. Do some research and refresh yourself on the company that’s calling and who the person is that will be interviewing you. Along with that, just like for an in-person interview, study up on what questions commonly come up in a phone interview and prepare for those. Tailor your answers for that specific job. Think through ahead of time your strengths and weaknesses, so that you have a quick, easy answer for that specific question. Then make sure, just like with a normal interview, that you have questions ready to ask them.

Finally, get dressed and ready like you would for a regular interview. You may think now is the time to skip out on that step and relax, but getting ready like you normally would is a great way to get yourself into the right mindset. It’s also a good idea to have pen and paper nearby for taking notes.

2. Take your time

When you’re on the phone, it can be difficult to know when the other person is done speaking. Make sure to listen and wait so that you know that they’re done and don’t have more to add to their statement or question. Then take time in answering, don’t rush it. Try to tailor your response to their specific needs. Make sure you speak slowly and enunciate clearly.

3. Get rid of distractions

If you’re at home, don’t sit out in the living room with your kids and dog running around. Think ahead and eliminate any distractions. This includes browsing the internet or flicking through the channels of the T.V. Your interviewer will know you’re distracted, guaranteed. So don’t let other things steal your focus.

4. Practice

Just like you would practice your response to an in-person interview, practice for your phone interview. Record yourself so that you can see what speech habits you need to eliminate. You can also see if you speak too fast or aren’t enunciating well.

5. Smile

Yes, they can’t see your smile. However, when you smile, it brightens the tone of your voice. Your tone is all the other person has to go on, but they can tell when you’re smiling. So do your best! Turn up the watts and have your smile on full-blast during your interview.

6. Send a thank-you

Don’t forget this important step. Again, this is a real interview. Make sure you follow up with a thank-you. Sending one by email is sufficient, but you’ll certainly stand out if you send one the old fashioned way. Either way, make sure to thank the interviewer at the end of the call, and then send some sort of thank-you.

Don’t be forgettable by providing a colorless, generic phone interview. Stand out by using these six tips.

Avoid These 4 Things When Using Friends as Networking Connections

Creating a quality network can be a difficult thing. It’s not easy to keep up with your many contacts, offering them help, and hopefully getting helped out once in a while in return. Some of the easiest people to network with are those who you’re closer to: namely, your friends. Don’t upset the delicate balance between friendship and professionals by making mistakes that leave you both burned. Here are things to avoid when asking your friends for networking favors.

Going overboard

Sure, that one friend might have a lot of knowledge. Or they know a lot of people that you would LOVE to know. That doesn’t mean that you can or should constantly ask them to give that knowledge and connections to you. Continuously asking for help will quickly dry up your friendship, especially if you’re not going out of your way to help them in return.

If you’ve asked your friend for a favor within the last few weeks, then try and hold off. Damaging your relationship with them is probably worse than delaying whatever you need the knowledge or connection for. Be considerate of them and their time. They have their own lives, their own careers. Practice consideration by keeping those in mind.

All work, no play

When you do connect up with your friend, don’t charge right into what you want or need. It feels incredibly rude and demeaning to be asked to go out for coffee, and then find out that all the other person wants is what they can get. Spend some time reconnecting with your friend and enjoying being with them. You can and will ask that burning question eventually. Don’t sabotage your efforts—and potentially your friendship—by doing so too early.

Stupid questions

There’s a saying that there are no stupid questions. However, there are some that definitely show some ignorance. If you haven’t worked with your friend in a professional way or had professional connections, then don’t ask them to be a reference. They don’t know if you really are a good employee, if you deliver on time, or if you would do well in a particular job. This puts them in a difficult place—having to say no to you. Don’t ask them to provide an irrelevant reference. Instead, ask for their help in other ways. They can look over your resume, let you bounce ideas off of them, and much more.

Being oblivious

If your friend feels uncomfortable about introducing you to a connection or—ahem—providing a reference, be sensitive to that. You don’t want them to do something they would feel uncomfortable doing, for whatever reason. It’s probably not personal. You don’t want to pressure them into compromising their career by helping you get ahead in yours. Be aware of subtle body language that can give you a hint, and be willing to give them an easy out so that they don’t feel like they’re offending you.

Your friends can be a great connection in your job hunt or even if you’re settled in your career. Treat that friendship right, as the valuable connection that it is, and you’ll never go wrong. Always practice reciprocity, and your friends will be thankful to have your friendship.

4 Critical Interview Mistakes

At last! You’ve finally scored an interview with that company that is a perfect fit and has the job you love. Don’t detract from that victory by making mistakes that could cost you the job. Avoid these four things at all costs.

Arriving late

You should build time into your travel to account for this. You never know when you might encounter unforeseen road construction, a train crossing your path or an accident. Building in a good time-cushion will be helpful if something comes up. If everything goes well and you arrive twenty minutes ahead of schedule, you have extra time to prepare before you go in and knock that interview out of the park.

Dress malfunctions/wrong kind of dress

It’s always wise to call the office ahead of time and ask what kind of dress is expected. Don’t show laziness or a misunderstanding of the company and its culture by coming in your sweatpants and comfy T-shirt. An interview is all about evaluating whether you’ll be the right fit for the company, and part of that is how you dress because you are a reflection of your workplace. If you spill coffee on yourself or have some other wardrobe malfunction, you’re in luck! You’ve already built in time for unforeseeable events and can take the necessary measures to fix the situation. If you have the misfortune to have this happen during the interview, address it casually, don’t let it drag the whole appointment down.

Checking your phone

A good rule of thumb for an interview is to turn off or silence your phone before you go into the building. Leaving it on vibrate is not acceptable because it can still be heard. If you have trouble remembering this, don’t bring your phone in with you. Being distracted by your phone communicates to the interviewer that this job really isn’t that important to you.

Bashing previous employer

This doesn’t endear you to your interviewer at all. In fact, they may have a connection to your former boss or may contact them as a reference. If you had issues with your former boss, acknowledge them in a more generic way. Don’t give in to bad-mouthing your former employer, colleagues, or work place. It won’t get you anywhere but on your way to your next interview.

An interview is a great opportunity to communicate how you are the best fit for the job you’re applying for. Avoid these mistakes to keep your interview on track. Be considerate of your interviewer, your previous employer, and yourself, and you’ll find yourself breezing through a great interview.

Use These 5 Words to Energize Your Business Writing

“The pen is mightier than the sword.” Those words were written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton over one hundred years ago. Just like the art of fencing requires practice, so does the art of using the pen. Choosing to utilize its power can bring great results.

Most business communication, like presentations, various business documents, and emails are just plain boring. But just like you dread reading that text, so does the person on the other end of your email. It’s time to get a little risky. There are words that you can use that will give some life to that otherwise yawn-worthy email. The person on the other end will thank you.

Here are some words to get you started:

  1. Immediately.

This word conveys quick and swift action that is effective. In our microwave world where instant gratification is the norm, we’re looking for things to be accomplished or to happen with swiftness. Maybe the person receiving the email will receive the benefits of a certain desired action immediately or you’ll immediately see to their request.

  1. Guaranteed.

No side door or backup plan is allowed with this one, and that’s why it appeals to people. The responsibility is placed on you so that there is little to no risk for the other person. This word is guaranteed to get your recipient’s attention and ease any concerns they may feel.

  1. Proven.

Be careful how you throw this one around. People are used to hearing companies talk about their ‘proven’ methods when in reality they’ve never actually been proven. Show exactly how your method is proven and how that will benefit them. This shows them that not only are you confident, you’re also trustworthy.

  1. Relevant.

No one likes getting a generic email that really has nothing to do with them or adds no value to their day or their goals. Likewise, any business writing you may be doing or may have to consume can become pure torture if it has no relevance to you and what you’re trying to accomplish. First of all, make sure that what you’re trying to communicate is relevant to the person on the other end, whether it’s a coworker, supervisor, or customer. Then use this word—sparingly and succinctly—to highlight the value that you’re adding to the other person’s life.

  1. Refresh.

If you’ve refreshed a plan, you’ve given it a new energy, a new vitalization. You took what had worked before and gave it new life, new energy. Use this word to communicate the benefits of your plan and the overall feeling it will result in.

It’s not all semantics. If you can harness the power of the written word in your business writing and emails, you’ll find the responses that you desire. Being able to spur someone to a desired action because of an email or a well-written business article isn’t just going to happen. You’ve got to put in the forethought and effort. These five words are just a springboard, any word can have powerful results if utilized correctly.