Monthly Archives: January 2014

Don’t Be the Last Candidate Standing

But don’t settle for second best when it comes to your career!

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Liz Ryan, CEO and founder of human workplace recently wrote a very informative article about the trials and tribulations of job hunting. When it comes to unemployment, how long is too long? When is the right time to bow out and accept defeat?

Anyone who has ever experienced a long period of job-hunting will know that the process is rarely anything but an emotional rollercoaster. From sleepless nights spent worrying about the future, to busy spurts of touching up CVs and frantic writing of cover letters…  Not to mention the agonising wait before hearing back from employers.  As David Bowie once said, ‘it ain’t easy’!

Perhaps the worst mistake you could make in this situation would be to sacrifice your own needs in the hunt for a job. So burnt out by your search for employment, you might find yourself tempted to take any job which would pay enough to allow you to make ends meet. However, choosing the wrong job is likely to be far more detrimental to your self image and your future career than a long period of unemployment that eventually leads to a positive outcome. In these situations it can be helpful to go by your gut feeling. This may sound glib, but can tell you a lot about how you actually feel. You might ask yourself, ‘is this really the job for me or am I simply afraid that I might not be offered anything better?’

Interviews are a good way of gauging what your new potential employer is actually like. Do they make you feel welcome? Do they make you feel valued? Do they make you feel like a worthy potential collaborator? If the answer to all or some of these questions is no, perhaps you would be better off finding an employer who appreciates and has faith in you, as an individual. As more and more businesses are experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, there is more power in your hands as a potential candidate.  For more on how you can interview your employer, click here!

The world of work is increasingly flexible and employers need skilled workers!

It’s the same with dating. Liz says, ‘We would never say to a woman we care about, “Get a guy — any guy! You have nothing. Guys have everything. If he’s willing to go out with you, you become the woman he wants you to be.”’ Well, shouldn’t the same be true of work! Employers need employees. Present yourself as the highly skilled, capable worker that you are, and you may be surprised with what you can achieve.

Therefore, Liz Ryan is right when she says ‘don’t be the last candidate standing’, but at the same time, don’t settle for second best!

ref: Liz Ryan

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Why Should I Hire You?

How to get hired? Learn how to appeal to employers!

James Caan is a serial entrepreneur and investor in people with passion. In this short video he reveals some of the most important things employers consider when conducting an interview.

‘Sometimes, it is the simplest questions which candidates can struggle with. If I was to interview ten people and ask them the question: Why would I hire you? – I can guarantee that eight of the people won’t give the answer I am looking for. They will give a detailed list of their strengths, but it won’t answer the question I am posing’

How can you, as an employee, use this to your advantage?

Caan is clear in expressing that what is wanted is an interviewee who is able to sum up, in concrete terms, the ways in which their strengths will be of benefit. That is to say, rather than a vague list of positive qualities, the interviewer will be far more impressed by how your skillset relates to the real world of work, and how your abilities will boost the value to their company.

Ask yourself these questions:

-What are your strengths and, more importantly, how will they serve you well in the position you have applied for?

-How can you convince your interviewer that what you will bring to the company is worth the salary attached to the role in question?

-Do you have the ambition and drive to develop and grow within this company?

-How will you make a difference?

-Overall, why should the company hire you over everyone else who has applied for the role?

The job market remains competitive and it’s understandable that every employer wants more bang for their buck. Caan boils all this down to a simple formula: ‘Every single person in an organisation should be able to quantify exactly how they add value’.

Only you have the power to change the way employers see you. Learn to market yourself directly to each individual company. Swat up on facts to impress your interviewer. Make you that you can quantify in specific terms the ways in which you will be an asset to their company.

Times are tough, so ask yourself, why should you get hired?

Ref: James Caan

For more on interviews click here!

5 Reasons Why ‘Generation Y’ make Good Employees, by a Real-Life Millennial

In this controversial lecture, clinical psychologist Meg Jay argues that young people today should be doing more to ‘claim’ their 20s, rather than delaying their ambitions and procrastinating until they reach the big 3-0. While Jay makes some good points, encouraging 20-somethings to invest in ‘identity capital’, the overall impression that she gives is that the majority of young people today have little idea as to what they want to do with their lives, or how to go about achieving their aims. This is nothing new, yet opinions such as these do little to help salvage the reputation of ‘Generation Y’ in the media.

Here are just a few of many reasons why ‘Generation Y’ workers can be extremely beneficial to employees:

1: They are in touch with reality.

Millennials always seem to be getting bad press, but the truth is that they are actually very aware of their less-than-glowing reputation in the Western media, and the criticisms that they are constantly barraged with. Millennials know about society’s negative preconceptions of ‘Generation Y’ as a group of spoilt, entitled ‘kidults’, lacking in both life experience and a solid work ethic. The result is that millennials have to work hard to prove that these negative stereotypes are not an accurate reflection of most young workers.

2. They are designed to multitask

Studying at a university nowadays is a different experience to what it was twenty years ago. Now, there is an increasing emphasis on the importance of versatility in graduates. Internships are on the rise, and learning to successfully combine academic study with a vocational internship is a great way for undergraduates to boost their multitasking abilities. Perhaps more than any other demographic, millennials are skilled at switching between multiple tasks with ease.

They come with a strong set of personal values

3. Millennial are not as concerned as previous generations with the benefits of financial security, but instead aim to focus their energies on work that they enjoy and believe in. Arguably, millennials don’t work less hard, but simply have different priorities to their 20th century forebears. The world has changed and now a fulfilling and challenging career is what the younger generations strive for, rather than one lifelong career which comes with guaranteed financial stability.

Social Media know-how is almost an innate ability!

4. Gen Y, the ‘social media generation’ grew up posting on Myspace and Bebo. They have since moved on to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other blogging platforms. For ‘Gen Y’, social media savoir-faire comes as part of the package. In 2014 we can expect more millennials to latch onto social networking sites like LinkedIn, in order to boost their connections. The way we network has shifted, and ‘Generation Y’ will be at the forefront of this development.

Millennials have the ability to be flexible in a rapidly-changing world

5. It’s no secret that the world of work is changing in favour of flexible hours, telecommuting, freelance work and part-time posts. Millennials will learn use this to their advantage. The future of work will be time-efficient and results-focused, and ‘Generation Y’ have the ability to move with the times, and even thrive in the era of the Flexible Revolution.

 

How to interview your next boss-YES you can do it!

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Job interview can be tricky. Turn the tables on your boss to be…

Job hunting is stressful. If you’re working and job-hunting, you’re anxious to make your move. If you’re not working, you’re under pressure to get a new job fast. As a job-seeker it’s easy to forget that you’re making as big a decision as your next employer is.

If a manager hires you and doesn’t like your brand of jazz, he can cut you loose and find someone new. That will cost money and time, but those are costs of doing business. If you take a job working for the wrong person, it can damage your resume and destroy your mojo. If you’ve ever worked for someone you didn’t mesh with, you know exactly what I mean.

On a job interview, you’re interviewing your next boss as surely as he or she is interviewing you. Your job is not to impress anyone. If you’re focused on making a good impression, you’ll be out of your body, evaluating your own performance, rather than squarely in your body, being yourself. In “Please like me” mode, you’ll contort yourself into pretzel shapes trying to say things the hiring manager will like. That’s beneath you.

Your job is to ‘stay yourself’ on a job interview whether the hiring manager likes you or not. If you aren’t a particular manager’s cup of tea, you haven’t failed — you’ve dodged a bullet. Only the people who get you deserve you, after all.

Your job on an interview is twofold. You’ve got to learn enough about the job opening — and particularly about the business pain behind the job, the pressing problem that warrants an expenditure of precious salary pounds – to be able to gauge whether you and this job are a good match.

Of course, the good match can’t just happen in your mind. If you decide that you’d love this job and thrive in it, you’ve got to make that connection clear to the hiring manager. You’ll do that by telling mini-stories which have a simple format. It starts with the problem your current or previous employer was facing, moves on to the solution you found, and ends by explaining why your dragon-slaying move was exactly what the situation called for. Here’s an example:

MANAGER: I know you’ve managed trade shows. We’ve got a big bottleneck getting new sales leads to the sales team after shows. Have you been around that process?

YOU: Absolutely – I look after that process now. Last year, we ramped up our trade show presence and had the same issue — a bottleneck, and leads going cold because we couldn’t get back to them.

MANAGER: What did you do?

YOU: We couldn’t keep feeding leads into a blocked pipeline. Our inside sales guys were swamped, which is a good thing, but there’s no use pushing on a rope. We jury-rigged an email campaign that got the trade show leads sorted into High, Medium and Low priority groups based on the prospect’s responses. Then I was able to make a case to the sales managers that their inside guys should drop other projects to call the High Priority leads. Two of our territories doubled their sales, and the others had big jumps.

MANAGER: What did you do with the lower-priority leads?

YOU: They got a bunch of email drips and calls to action, and we left the rest up to them. We toyed with the idea of getting some temps on board to call them, but we ended up using email to convert about twenty-five percent of them. The rest are still getting drips.

MANAGER: I like your practical outlook.

Now your hiring manager knows how you roll. Mini stories will make that part of your job easy. But what about your other priority – learning enough about the job, the company, your personal opportunity in this organisation and your potential boss’s style to decide whether or not you even want the job?

How do you interview your next boss as he or she is interviewing you?

This technique is powered by your personal mojo. Finding your voice in a job interview, like using your influence at work, is not a radical thing to do. It is a matter of remembering your value in the talent equation.That is the one thing that many brilliant, talented professionals fear to do. They are hesitant to try. They’ve staked their self-image on their Good Boy or Good Girl credentials. They’re not used to stepping outside the velvet ropes, and saying or doing unexpected things.

Yet finding your voice in a job interview, like using your influence at work, is not a radical thing to do. It is a matter of remembering your value in the talent equation.

If your mojo is low, you’re likely to scoff and say “I can’t interview my next manager! How absurd! I’m a job seeker, and I have no power.

If you don’t feel ready to do it yourself at this moment, don’t despair! We are all growing new muscles and mojo for the new-millennium workplace. We are doing it together.

ou can interview your next boss to a greater or lesser degree depending on your mojo level. If you happen to have a job interview on a day when your flame is high, you can interview your next boss more aggressively. If you interview on a low-mojo day, use our Low Power setting (below).

Don’t try to interview your next boss in a panel interview or one where the questions are highly scripted. If you see your next manager reading from a script in his hands, you may have difficulty getting him off the script.

At the same time, a manager who reads interview questions from a script is not your ideal next boss if you’re over 21 years old. We forgive baby supervisors for scripted interview questions, and hold everyone else to a higher standard.

LOW POWER SETTING

If you’re new to the Whole Person Job Search and the idea of interviewing your next boss freaks you out, try this approach. The hiring manager will ask you interview questions, and you’ll answer each one. After each answer, you’ll ask a question of your own back, like this:

MANAGER: So, what made you move to Edinburgh in 2007? That’s a big move.

YOU: You’re right! I’d never lived in a snowy climate before, but I love it here. My fiancee at the time was in University here. We got married two years ago. That reminds me, I notice that since your merger with Acme Explosives last year, you’ve added a lot more jobs in Birmingham than here in Edinburgh. Do you see that shift continuing?

MANAGER: Sharp eye! Yes, I definitely see more of our operations moving to Birmingham, but the corporate headquarters is staying here, including Finance, HR, IT and my Sales Administration group. That’s the plan. Since you asked, how do you feel about travel to Birmingham?

YOU: Love it! It’s just that my wife is now getting her PhD and we wouldn’t be able to move any time soon.

MANAGER: I hear you. That’s fine. So many things are virtual now anyway, right?

Try the Low Setting if you’re new to interviewing your next manager. It isn’t difficult, but it may take a shift in your perspective.

Most of us have grown up with the idea that the manager is in the driver’s seat at a job interview, and we fall into Student mode, sitting quietly and answering questions as they’re put to us. We can shake off that old training and have a normal conversation with our next boss, just the way we’d chat with anyone we’re meeting for the first time.

MEDIUM POWER SETTING

If you’re already comfortable ‘spinning the table’ the way we described above — answering a question and asking your own question back to the hiring manager — try taking your interviewing-your-next-boss practice up a notch by helping your hiring manager get off the script entirely.

You’ll do that by using some of your airtime during the interview to learn more about the pain behind the job ad.

Here’s an example:

MANAGER: So, you’ve dealt with this trade show hand-off thing before?

YOU: For sure. I’ve got a story to tell you about that, in fact. Can I ask you a quick question about that issue first, though?

MANAGER: Sure.

YOU: You’ve got sales leads not getting out to the field, and I would imagine that causes some headaches. You’ve seen those lead forms and business cards, and you know some of them are hot prospects.

MANAGER: Not only that, I made commitments to some of them in the booth.

YOU: Exactly! So you come back to headquarters, and weeks go by, and the leads sit in the queue and nobody calls them. That’s frustrating.

MANAGER: It is. It’s a huge problem.

YOU: At the same time, it’s hard to imagine that that one problem gave rise to this £60,000 job, which reports to you directly. Would you say the sales lead bottleneck is the main reason this job is open, or are there other pressing issues? I would love to get the full picture, from your perspective.

MANAGER: The sales lead thing is the most top of mind. There are two other big items on my plate. Our sales reporting has to get a lot better. We’re hamstrung in a number of ways that I’ll share with you. The other issue is sales training. It’s all OJT and catch-as-catch-can stuff right now. So that’s my trifecta.

YOU: Thanks for that explanation. I get the picture now. Let me tell you that trade show story with that added context.

MANAGER: Please do.

HIGH POWER SETTING

When your mojo is high and your spinning-the-table muscles grow, you’ll make every job interview a conversation about pain. You won’t sit meekly like a lamb and answer interview questions, then go silent and wait for the next question. It’s much more fun and more interesting to dig into the pain behind the job ad — and more useful for the hiring manager, too!

When you really understand what’s keeping your hiring manager up at night, you can talk with him or her about more important things than when you first learned to use Excel or if you were an animal, what sort of animal you’d be. Hiring managers only ask brainless interview questions like “What sort of animal would you be?” and “With all the talented candidates, why should I hire you?” because they don’t know any other way to get through a job interview.

ou can start interviewing your next manager any time the spirit moves you! Here’s a sample High Power Setting interview to get your wheels turning:

MANAGER: So, how long have you been using Excel?

YOU: Oh, my goodness, when did that program come out? We can say forever. Can I ask you a quick question?

MANAGER: Sure.

YOU: You said this is a new position. What would you say gave rise to this opening, more than anything else? Was it the acquisition last year, or a change in strategy, or something else?

MANAGER: The acquisition was part of it, but it’s really just taking our decision-making platform to the next level. This job is about taking our whole sales operations outlook up a notch. We’re keeping up with sales growth, but the analytics aren’t there. We need more altitude.

YOU: That’s really helpful. Can you tell me a story that gives me a feel for that — how that shortfall in analysis hurts you?

YOU: That’s really helpful. Can you tell me a story that gives me a feel for that — how that shortfall in analysis hurts you?

MANAGER: Okay, sure. I can tell you what we sold last year and last quarter by product, by territory and by sales rep. I can tell you which products and regions had the biggest growth. But I can’t tell you the trends, anything longitudinal, or anything related to specific marketing campaigns and their effectiveness beyond the gut-feel level, because we don’t have the data.

YOU: Okay, fantastic. So the ideal scenario would be…

MANAGER: The ideal scenario is that we choose twenty or thirty key metrics and we are on top of them by the day, by the hour, by the minute. That’s not my only goal for this year, but it’s a big one.

YOU: And when this person joins you, how will they start that process? Is it primarily an IT initiative?

Now you’re talking to your next boss about things that matter, not goofy trivia items like where you got one of your certifications. Important things are happening on both sides of the equation. Your conversation becomes a million times more real to the hiring manager, and that’s good for you as a candidate, one of several.

At the same time, you’re getting a feel for the guy (a unisex term) opposite you in the room. Can you work for this person? What is his or her worldview? What does s/he care about? Could the two of you make a powerhouse team? Your job at the job interview is to answer these questions. If you can’t get your hiring manager to open up about what’s not perfect in Denmark, what does that tell you?

It’s a new day, and no one is responsible for your career but you. The old-fashioned measure of a successful job interview (“They really liked me!”) is the booby prize now. What good is a winning interview if the people who like you aren’t people who can grow your flame?

Once you step up to this level of interviewing, you will never, ever go back to being a lamb in a visitor’s chair. Your mojo will be far too big for that. Start with the Low Power setting and work your way up. It’s a new year, and a new day in the talent marketplace. It’s a great time to find your voice!

(Liz Ryan-CEO and Founder, Human Workplace)

I have started my own company Flexiworkforce, which will launch early this year. I would so very much appreciate interviewing people that have an opinion, personality and the CHUTZPAH to question me on my ideals, struggles and future plans for my business. I want to know that the people wanting to work for my start-up have the passion that I have and how they think they could fit in and help propel the business forward.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Flexible Working is King of All

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FLEXIBLE WORKING HELPS ‘MAKE  WORK…WORK’ FOR ALL.

Working flexibly looks different to everyone. It could be part-time working, nine-day fortnights, not working the school holidays, taking a conference call at 10pm, or leaving the office early to go to the gym.

It is about giving people the opportunity, wherever feasible, to work the hours and in the location that best helps them maximise the personal contribution they make.

It isn’t about working less or working more, but about having greater control over how to get your work done more effectively. This ultimately enhances the performance of the organisations we work for, while considering the team’s needs and ensuring customers and clients take priority.

When I speak to people about Flexiworkforce and what we are trying to achieve, particularly men, they immediately jump to the conclusion that it is a product for women returning back to work after childbirth and is to do with part time or job share working. SO WRONG!!

Modern flexible/agile working is so much more than this 1970s view.

Flexible working in 2014 encompasses:

-Part time working- working less than full-time hours (usually by working fewer days).

-Flexitime- the employee chooses when to start and end work (within agreed limits) but works certain ‘core hours’, eg 10am to 4pm every day.

-Job sharing- 2 people do 1 job and split the hours.

-Term time working- working only during school term times and having school holidays off to be with their children.

-Working from home- it might be possible to do some or all of the work from home or anywhere else other than the normal place of work. Also known as teleworking or remote working.

-Compressed hours- working full-time hours but over fewer days.

-Sabattical / Career breaks- is a rest from work, or a break, often lasting from two months to a year.

-Staggered start / end times- the employee has different start, finish and break times from other workers.

-Annualised hours- the employee has to work a certain number of hours over the year but they have some flexibility about when they work. There are sometimes ‘core hours’ which the employee regularly works each week, and they work the rest of their hours flexibly or when there’s extra demand at work.

There is also contract, temporary and freelance working.

With this much choice on offer for both workers and businesses must be able to find a combination that fits.

Flexiworkforce will launch in early 2014 and will bring with it the cream of the crop of  UK employers that promote and understand the needs and wants of flexible workers- CARPE DIEM!