Thursday, 6 June 2013

How to Totally Avoid Age Discrimination in your CV/Resume

Sadly, age discrimination in the job market is everywhere and many CV's/Resumes exhibit elements that reveal details about a persons age, that can lead to age discrimination. With some simple tweaks though, age discrimination can be totally avoided when applying for jobs.

1. Date of Birth 
Never state your date of birth on your CV/Resume, whatever your age. It's not a requirement, and probably won't be a limiting factor anyway once you've had the chance to show-case your value to the company at a face to face interview. 

2. Email address / Contact Details
People who use email accounts that were popular way back, such as Hotmail or AOL, might be perceived as older, while more recent accounts such and Gmail create an air of current and tech savvy in employers' minds. Consider switching your CV/Resume email to a Gmail account. 

Don't give your age away in your email, such as, as the reader will probably assume that the number is your year of birth. Instead, use a simple email naming convention such as or, without any numbers. If your chosen name convention is already taken by another user, keep trying other formats until you find one that's available.

Also, state just your mobile/cell number, not your home phone number, and consider inserting a link to your LinkedIn profile to stay current. 

Important - if you state a LinkedIn profile address, ensure your LinkedIn profile is optimised and in-sync with your CV/Resume, as many employers will review your LinkedIn profile these days. If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, give serious consideration to getting one - it's free and can help open doors to job opportunities. 

3. Professional Profile
Most CV's/Resume's start with a summary of experience, which can lead to age assumptions. For example, an experienced person might state: "...over 25 years Software Development experience..." A better way of stating this, without triggering any age assumptions is: "...10+ Software Development experience..." or similar. 

4. Education, Awards, Training
Remove all dates. State achievements and where they were awarded, in order of highest qualification or most relevant first, but with no dates. Employers might seek to validate your awards, but dates are not usually a component of this process.

5. Experience
Demonstrate that you have relevant experience required for the role (employers often state X years' experience in job descriptions or imply the same), but try not to go back more than 10 years or so. You can always share earlier experienced during an interview.

Note: Some people say that you should state earlier experience if it's relevant to the job you're applying for, but few employers will take much notice of experience that long ago.

Very Important - use the right keywords because automated processes and people will scan for these keywords as an indicator of relevant experience. Use the same keywords / phrases that are stated in the 'required' part of the job ad/description, stating the most important words or phrases more than once, particularly in your most recent experience.

6. Skills
State only the relevant and current technical skills that are required by the job, delete irrelevant skills to bring the focus to what's relevant, and remove outdated computing skills such as WordPerfect and Lotus123 as these will trigger assumptions about your age. 

7. Children
Don't state your kids' age and consider not stating you have kids at all, as this might lead to age assumptions being made about you.  

8. Red Flag Terminology 
Avoid red flag terminology such as 'mature', 'seasoned', 'young looking', 'youthful', 'fit', 'healthy' and so on. And get a feel for the style of terminology being used in the job advert and on the employers' website and try to adapt your writing style to suit. 

When you make these simple enhancements to your CV/Resume, your chances of being selected for interview will be greatly enhanced, guaranteed. I wish you prompt success in your job search and please do feel free to share your experiences. 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

8 more reasons why you Didn't get the Job

1. Someone else was more qualified
At another time, you may have been the ideal hire, but this time, there was someone better qualified than you. It's out of your control, don't worry about it. Some jobs get many applicants these days and many well qualified people get rejected. Keep going.
2. You weren't qualified enough
The irrelevance of most applications to clearly stated job requirements never ceases to surprise me. Take time to understand the essential requirements stated on the job description, then match those against your own skill set. Consider picking up the phone to the recruiter to ask clarification if you're unsure. Be honest - is there a good match?
3. You weren't the right 'fit'
Regardless of your ability to do the job, if the interviewer thinks that your personality/behavior might 'clash' with the people you'd be working with, or if they didn't gel with you for any reason, you'll get rejected. Unless you've displayed negative behavior / body language in the interview, don't worry about it. It's out of your control. Move on.
5. You didn't 'sell' yourself
State compelling reasons why you will excel at the job, giving examples of previous work, quantified by measured achievements. You wouldn't hire a person you didn't do this. Neither will they. Try to get more prepared next time, using this experience as a learning exercise. 
6. You annoyed the interviewer or created the wrong first impression
Turning up late, scruffy appearance, phone bleeping, checking your watch, wandering eyes, too much cologne, limp handshake, asking about money / benefits too early, being too pushy, calling too quickly or too often after the interview asking for feedback, and so on. These types of behaviors are a sure-fire turn off.
7. You lack enthusiasm
Don't overdo it and don't look desperate, but prospect employers need to feel that you're genuinely interested in the job you're being assessed for. 
8. The Job no longer exist
Someone internally may have taken the job, the hire requisition may not have been signed off, the project may have been cancelled. Things change, it's out of your control, don't worry about it. 

Monday, 20 May 2013

You're not lucky to have this job, they're lucky to have you...But ...

I just read this blog by Seth Godin, as below. How very true!
Most people invest a great deal of their waking life at work. Best to try optimise the value of this experience. 
Every day is an investment
"You're not lucky to have this job, they're lucky to have you. Every day, you invest a little bit of yourself into your work, and one of the biggest choices available to you is where you'll be making that investment.
That project that you're working on, or that boss you report to... worth it?
Investing in the wrong place for a week or a month won't kill you. But spending ten years contributing to something that you don't care about, or working with someone who doesn't care about you... you can do better."

Friday, 22 March 2013

The Problem with Corporate Recruitment Process

There are notable exceptions, but anyone that's been in the market for a new job recently will probably have felt some of this pain, and employers are losing out on top talent as a result. Top talent doesn't stay around for long, and bureaucratic, largely irrelevant and depressingly automated corporate recruitment process is a sure fire way of missing them.  
Liz Ryan, former Fortune 500 HR Executive, nails it in her article at Bloomberg, below and at this link:
"With unemployment still so high, it’s amazing to hear that employers are clamoring for talent. The so-called talent shortage is a major topic at human resources and recruiting conferences, and the balance of messages on my answering machine has shifted over the past year from inquiries by job seekers to contacts by HR folks seeking referrals to talented job candidates. It is strange that even though every hiring manager knows that the sharpest candidates don’t stay on the market long, corporate recruiting processes don’t change. They don’t get nimbler or faster. They don’t get less burdensome or bureaucratic. You’d think that employers hungry for talent would innovate, making their recruiting processes easier and more human.
The worst part about effectively useless corporate recruiting is the notion that the best-qualified candidate for a job is the one willing to climb over the most piles of broken glass to get the job. No wonder hiring managers take a person who is more likely to be the most-compliant—rather than the most-talented—candidate. We could call this person the Last Candidate Standing.
The whole encrusted recruiting process (not to mention unfriendly, robotic auto-responders and the unending stream of honesty tests, writing tests, and other recruiting hurdles) makes it easy for organizations to hire drones, and it makes it hard for them to hire the brilliant and complex people they need to solve their problems. Here’s our list of six ways that recruiting processes conspire to keep great people out while pulling in docile and wan candidates.
How to Hire an Empty Suit:
• Compose job descriptions that list all the tasks the new hire will perform, plus the long list of qualifications the ideal candidate must possess. (Don’t talk about the mission; make the job description as bland as possible.)
• Write a job description that insults the reader from the start, using such language as: “Only applicants with “Blah, Blah, Blah” will be considered. Make sure the tone is such that readers know your company rules the roost—and that he or she will be lucky to get a word in reply.
• Send interested applicants to a horrendously slow-moving and tedious recruiting website and require them to spend two hours or so filling out forms and uploading documents. For extra points, blow up the application two or three times while candidates are working on submissions.
• Throw screening tests and extra requirements at candidates throughout the process, just to keep them guessing.
• Take weeks or months to get back to people to schedule job interviews. At the interviews, keep them waiting in the lobby, ask them idiotic questions like “What is your greatest weakness?” and get offended when they inquire about the actual state of the team and the company.
• Finally, leave candidates in the dark while you prepare low-ball offers, and then send the offers via e-mail with a message that says “We must receive your acceptance within 12 hours, or this offer will be null and void.”
The off-putting legalese is the final touch that will come close to guaranteeing that any job-seeker with an ounce of backbone or self-esteem will flee, leaving you free to hire the most docile and compliant person, aka the Last Candidate Standing."

You might also be interested in: Don't Hire the Perfect Candidate

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Don't Try to Hire the Perfect Candidate

I've just read a great blog by Lance Haun at HBR that will resonate with any recruiter these days. Particularly since the global economic meltdown, due to diminished confidence and perceived (wrongly) abundance of available talent in the market, employers increasingly look for "Purple Squirrel" hires. 

Purple Squirrels are perfectly skilled, perfectly experienced and perfectly educated candidates, living locally to your business and who are willing to work for peanuts. The problem is that in today's competitive market, these people don't exist (or they're extremely rare at best), and that's why some vacancies remain unfilled for so long.

"Companies often throw good money after bad when looking for the perfect candidate for an open position. Due to the lingering effects of the recession and the perception of a glut of talent, hiring managers are still picky about their hires and many jobs remain unfilled. Who can blame them? The cost of hiring the wrong person is extremely high, especially when you factor in the hidden costs.

When the right candidate doesn't materialize, the common solution is to keep searching, add more recruiters, or tap a search or staffing agency to increase the chances of finding Mr or Mrs Right. But, keeping a job open for months on end or redoubling a company's recruiting efforts doesn't actually address the core reasons why it's hard to find the perfect candidate. One of the reasons is that perfect candidates are too rare to bank on.

At the crux of the problem is the purple squirrel, a term recruiters and hiring managers use to define the the rarest of candidates, almost mythical in nature. These candidates are near impossible to find in an ultra-competitive industry and posses the perfect mix of skills, education and experience.

For every purple squirrel hire out there though, there are dozens, if not hundreds of open, unfilled job openings. Look at the career pages of some of the largest companies. Some of the best places to work in the tech industry like Google and Microsoft have hundreds of job openings that have been there for for, five and six months or more. They aren't the only ones by a long shot. Hiring manager and recruiters keep them open hoping that one day, they'll get notification of the perfect new applicant.

Too often, the candidate never materializes. If the purple squirrel doesn't show, you've spent money and time on a fruitless endeavor. It costs you the time the recruiter spent on the opening, the opportunity cost of time the recruiter could have spent on another opening, and the time of those impacted by the opening (managers, colleagues etc).

I'm not suggesting you go the other direction and hire whomever you want, no matter the consequence. It is time, however, to think much more strategically about purple squirrels and the pursuit of perfect candidates everywhere.

Let's imagine a fictitious future where all job openings had to filled in no more than 60 days. In this future, if you miss getting someone hired or if you wait too long, you lose the position for good and your business has to adapt. What would change?

Those purple squirrels would disappear. Very few companies could fill jobs in a timely manner while also chasing the scant possibility of snatching one of those rare creatures. Even companies with the budgets for it would at least hesitate with that sort of deadline. How would companies adapt to this new reality?

1. They'd better analyze what the job market looks like: One of the hot, ultra competitive fields for talent is in the engineering field, especially in Silicon Valley. Now, if you're a firm and you understand the competitive landscape, you can better decide on a winning strategy. Your chances of getting top talent across the board is next to nothing, but your chances of getting one or two very talented people that you've targeted and laid out compelling offers for is much, much better. You'd spend the rest of your time finding capable, but not top talent.

2. A better focus on training and retention: In some cases, it will be impossible to find even good matches for all the positions you need to fill. Sometimes that can be because of location or a labor shortage in the industry itself. Some companies choose to escalate the salary until they start landing the people they need, but others are using training programs to supplement their workforce. Keeping existing employees happy and on-board is the cheapest form of hiring. Retention would need to become a huge strategy to avoid hiring.

3. Throw cost-of-hire concerns out of the window: If time is everything, the effectiveness of a hiring tool must reign supreme above its cost. San Francisco State University professor of management Dr. John Sullivan banned cost of hire calculations when he was chief talent officer because, as he writes, "cost per hire had the negative effect of causing recruiters to shift their focus towards cost reduction and away from our real job, which was to produce high performing hires."

4. Recruiting would become a hunting profession again: The terms headhunter is a little out of date, not just because of its taboo sounding name, but also because many recruiters don't hunt. Instead, they are administrators, project managers or coordinators. If you only had 60 days to fill a job, you'd want some assurances that your team could do it, even if the applicant flow wasn't there.

5. A more honest evaluation of what the organisation needs: With a better understanding of the job market and what's available, along with recruiters who are empowered and enabled to find those folks in a timely manner, hiring managers and recruiters will be able to have a really honest discussion about priorities. When you can't float out a job opening forever, it forces all parties to understand the capacity of a recruiting department as well as what are the highest impact positions you should be hiring for.

This exercise is about planning and preparing for the best realistic talent acquisition outcomes. Even if you can't live in this ideal, you can better understand your situation to aim for more realistic candidate expectations." 

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

10 things Human Resources won't tell you

I recently read an interesting blog by Jim Rendon over at the Wall Street Journal titled "Ten Things Human Resources Won't Tell You", which I found an interesting perspective - here it is below. It would be interesting to hear how these compare to your environment.

"We're squeezed too." 
There was a time when human resources departments handled every staffing need at a company, from hiring and firing to administering benefits and determining salaries. But HR's role has begun to change significantly as departments have shrunk at companies across the board. According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, the profession's largest association, the head count at the average HR department fell from 13 in 2007 to nine in 2008. "HR departments are under pressure like never before," says Steve Miranda, the society's global HR and integration officer.

As much of what was once HR's domain increasingly gets outsourced, human resources is regrouping to help show top management how it can add to the bottom line, says Tony Rucci, former chief administrative officer at Cardinal Health and a professor at the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University. Though that may seem like an odd role for a department that doesn't make or sell anything, strong HR departments are now focusing on boosting productivity by helping employees better understand what's expected of them and by showing managers how to be more effective.

"We're not always your advocate..." 
Employees often turn to HR if they're having problems with a manager, but they don't always come away satisfied. In 2007, Ronica Tabor was interviewing for a better sales job at tool manufacturer Hilti North America when, she says, the interviewer told her that women had to work harder than men to learn to use and sell tools and that she should check with her husband about applying for the job. Ms. Tabor says she turned to HR with "high hopes" they'd keep the interviewer from doing this with others. But Ms. Tabor's attorney says she was "made ineligible for promotion for another year" and left the company.

She is suing Hilti in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, alleging gender discrimination. A Hilti spokesperson says the company's investigation found that Tabor wasn't qualified for the opening and that Hilti doesn't discriminate. "Our HR process did work," says the spokesperson. Still, employees should realize that HR answers to the company, says Lewis Maltby, director of the National Workrights Institute, an employee-rights organization. "HR is a spear carrier for the boss," he says.

"...but we can help your career." 
Human resources managers do much more than handle employment agreements, medical forms and 401(k) paperwork. They can also have a hand in helping to retain and promote top talent—i.e., you. J.T. O'Donnell, a former HR manager and the founder of online career-development company, says it's a good idea to be in touch with someone in the department. Employees often want to avoid HR, Ms. O'Donnell says, "but you really should do the opposite."

Molly John credits HR with helping her get promoted to partner at Ernst & Young last year, after she participated in an HR-sponsored program assigning senior partners as mentors to promising junior employees. Without it, she says, "I would not have been promoted so soon." Seymour Adler, a senior VP with HR management firm Aon Consulting, says one way to be recognized for your work is to keep human resources in the loop—say, by sending your HR manager an occasional e-mail to let her know how you've been contributing to the company's success.

That kind of connection could help land you a promotion when positions open up or even keep you off the chopping block during the next round of layoffs.

How to make the cut? Be sure your résumé and cover letter highlight the skills asked for in the job posting; HR tosses applications that don't meet all the basic criteria. And ask yourself what in your background fits the company's needs, says Mike Wright, senior vice president of outsourcing sales with Hewitt Associates.

"Want the job? Then you'll want to get to know us." 
With unemployment hovering around 10%, HR managers are inundated with responses for every job posting. In fact, some companies are hiring outside firms to post jobs and sort through résumés, presenting only a dozen or so qualified candidates for consideration.

Another angle: Approach an in-house recruiter or hiring manager before they post a position. Try using business-oriented social-media sites like to meet contacts, says Ms. O'Donnell. Judi Perkins, founder of, says she found most of her clients jobs this way. When you score an interview with HR reps, take it seriously—you never know how much say they have in the process. And ask them what qualities they look for in employees. "You really need to sell them on your abilities," says Ms. O'Donnell.

"Yes, Facebook can get you fired."
Employees like to think that what they do on their own time is their own business, but that's not always the case. According to a 2009 survey by the American Management Association and the ePolicy Institute, 27% of companies have policies about what employees can post on personal blogs. "You have to think about whether this will come back to haunt you," says Nancy Flynn, executive director of the institute.

That never occurred to Nate Fulmer, a warehouse manager for chemical supplier Environmental Express. Mr. Fulmer and his wife made fun of a local church sermon in a podcast they posted online in 2005. Mr. Fulmer says it got so much attention, his boss listened to it, thought it was offensive and fired him. "I was so blindsided," he says. (A company spokesperson says the firm has new ownership and can't comment on employee matters.) According to Ms. Flynn's survey, 2% of companies have dismissed employees over the content of personal social-networking pages. Ms. Flynn recommends employees check company policy before posting anything online and steer clear of potentially offensive content, even if it has nothing to do with work.

"In some companies, we're not very useful at all."
It seems that every company has a different approach to human resources. For some, it's nothing more than an administrative job, involved with hiring and firing, benefits and not much more. These firms may have a dysfunctional work environment with high turnover, Ms. Perkins says, where employees can often feel trapped. By contrast, companies with strong HR departments have been shown to do better financially, says Mr. Rucci. Empowered human resources reps can also help guide employees through their careers.

"You're not paranoid—we are watching you."
How to tell the difference? For one, see whom HR reports to. If it's the CEO, that's good, says Mr. Maltby. If HR managers are in the field, getting to know employees and how the company works, that can be another key, says LaRhonda Edwards, an employee-relations panel member with the Society of Human Resource Management. One way to suss out a human resources department's effectiveness is to ask the manager interviewing you how HR operates and what it has done to help her achieve her goals. If she doesn't have an answer, it's "not a good sign," Mr. Rucci says.

Companies want to make sure you're working most of the time, not sending joke e-mails to your buddies. Half of organizations in the ePolicy Institute survey banned the use of personal e-mail on the job, and more than one in four reported firing employees for misusing the Internet. In many companies, HR works with the information-technology department and the legal team to develop policies for electronic communication.

These policies aren't a secret. Ms. Edwards says she makes a big effort to walk new employees through computer-use and e-mail policies, and they must sign forms saying they're aware of them. Many companies employ software that sifts through e-mail looking for curse words or sexually explicit language. IT monitors Web usage and can see every site an employee visits. In fact, anything you do via the company's server—most activity on an office computer, including personal e-mail—is subject to review by your boss.

Firings over these issues are on the rise, says Ms. Flynn. In 2009, 26% of companies reported terminating employees for violations of e-mail policy, up from 14% in 2001. "Employees should act as if the boss was looking over their shoulder," says California employment mediator Michelle Reinglass.

"Read the fine print."
When you take a job, you may be agreeing to more than you know. In the fine print of employment agreements, employee handbooks and job applications, many companies include a mandatory arbitration clause—meaning that you agree to give up your right to take any dispute to court, even if the employer has broken the law. Instead, the case goes to an arbitrator, who decides it privately, and "the grounds for appeal are extremely limited," says Donna Lenhoff, an attorney with the National Employment Lawyers Association. Lenhoff estimates that more than 30 million Americans are bound by arbitration clauses at work.

Employers—particularly those in financial services, health care and pharmaceuticals—often favor arbitration because it keeps costs down and cases out of the headlines, says Manesh Rath, a partner at the law firm Keller & Heckman. But, says Ms. Lenhoff, arbitration seldom works out well for employees. A recent study found that arbitrators decided in favor of employees just 30 % of the time, and when the individual arbitrator had worked previously on a case with the employer, the employee won only 12% of the time.

Ms. Reinglass says employees can often fare better in court. "Someone on a jury might relate to your experience in a way that an arbitrator may not," she says.

"We know more about you than you think."
These days companies do a lot more than look over a pile of résumés and call a few references before hiring a new employee. They bring in outside firms to dig into an applicant's background and verify education and employment histories, and they will often even search criminal records and credit reports. According to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 53% of companies have conducted credit checks on their employees. Companies are concerned that "if you have a lot of financial pressure, you might not act in the best interest of the company," says Mr. Wright.

Another survey, conducted in 2007 by HR Focus magazine, found that 86% of firms performed criminal background checks during the hiring process, and it has been estimated that nearly two-thirds of companies test job applicants for drug use.

But not everyone thinks such measures are extreme. If anything, employers don't dig deeply enough, says Mr. Rath: "An employee with a problem with a previous employer or criminal record will try to hide it."

"We love tests."
Job seekers today have so much experience packaging themselves, with tailored résumés and rehearsed answers, that companies turn to tests to find out more about what makes them tick. A 2009 survey by research firm IOMA found that 26% of companies conducted personality, psychological or integrity tests on applicants. Job seekers may also be asked to take a test to quantify their creativity. What's more, insurance companies are pushing businesses to screen for traits like risk-taking, a quality the underwriter would not appreciate in, say, an applicant for a forklift-driver position.

But testing does have its problems. Mr. Rucci says that the most important indicator of future success on the job is past performance. Counter to that, HR managers sometimes distance themselves from the hiring process by relying on tests rather than performance appraisals. "There was a time when someone would say, 'This is the best-qualified candidate, based on their record'," says Mr. Maltby. "Now it's tests, and no one takes responsibility for the decision."

Monday, 17 September 2012

Top 10 Reasons Employees Quit their Jobs

A study by PwC (albeit a while ago) of nearly 20,000 employees who completed exit interviews with PwC clients reveals the top 10 reasons why people quit their jobs. It’s interesting to note that 5/10 of the reasons are directly manager related. These findings pretty much stack-up with what we hear, although people are much less inclined to talk negatively about the people they work with. Makes sense. 
  1. Limited career/promotion opportunities - 16%
  2. Supervisor lacked respect/support - 13%
  3. Compensation - 12%
  4. Job duties boring/no challenge - 11%
  5. Supervisor lacked leadership skills - 9%
  6. Work hours - 6% 
  7. Unavoidable reasons - 5%
  8. Supervisor poor employee relations - 4%
  9. Supervisor displayed favoritism - 4%
  10. Not recognized for my contribution - 4% 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

10 reasons people get rejected after a job interview

from .

Based on feedback we have collected from employers in the last 12 months or so, here are our top 10 reasons why people got rejected after an interview.

1. Not answering the question
This is a common reason for rejection and it’s easily done – waffling on about something that fails to answer the question that’s been asked. Bear in mind that the interviewer has carefully selected a range of questions designed to explore your relevancy for that job. Ensure you give a relevant and brief answer to the question that has been asked and back up your answer with a success story where you can. There’s a bunch of interview questions that are commonly asked such as – Can you tell me a bit about yourself?, What are your weaknesses?, What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?, What are you looking to leave your current job?.. Prepare before the interview by having good answers ready. 

2. Lack of homework
It’s not always asked, but make no mistake, the interviewer expects you to have done some background research on the company. If you’re asked and you know nothing, chances are you’ll be rejected. The more you know, the more you’ll impress, but as a minimum, you need to know a few key points, which you can pick up from the internet in a few minutes – What services/products does the company provide?, Who is the CEO?, How long have they been trading?, Do they have other offices?, Who is their competition?, What is their turnover? …

3. Bored!
One of our candidates was rejected last week for this reason. It’s important to demonstrate desire, energy, enthusiasm and positivity – you’re interested in this job right?  Show interest - be upbeat, smile, sit up straight, nod your head in agreement occasionally, ask relevant questions to explore items of conversation in more depth. You get the idea.

4. Not selling yourself
This is the most common mistake we see on CV’s and the problem is amplified at interview (if you get that far). People list / discuss ‘responsibilities’, without quantifying their successes in those tasks. This tells the interviewer nothing about how good you might be at performing those tasks. To prepare, make a list of your duties, then against each, make a note of your successes, quantified by facts and figures where possible. For example, if you’re a sales person, how did you perform last year – perhaps you exceeded your target by 140%? This simple prep will enhance your confidence and improve your eligibility.

5. Not asking questions
Everyone will ask you if you have any more questions at the end of the interview and you need to have some questions to ask at the close of the interview, else you won't leave the best lasting impression. Have a few questions ready to ask at the end of the meeting and make sure these aren’t generic questions that the interviewer is likely to answer in the course of the interview. For example – How do you measure success in this job?, Can I take a look at where I might be working?, Is training support available if I want to enhance my skills and knowledge?, What would you say are some key benefits about working for this company?, When can I expect to hear back from you?”. But, don’t ask about salary, holidays and so on as this might create the wrong impression.

6. Arriving late
Whatever you do, don’t turn up late! Leave yourself plenty of time, take into account delays, rehearse the journey beforehand, ensure you know where they are, have a travel contingency if your train isn’t running. Aim to check in at reception 10 minutes before the interview is due to start (bear in mind that you might need to sign in with security, take the elevator to another floor, then check in again). Don’t fall down on this point. If you absolutely can't help being late due to circumstances out of your control, phone the recruiter before the interview is due to start and briefly explain why you're running late.  

7. Not having a job change 'audit trail'
Often one of the first questions that’s often asked is - “Why are you looking to leave your current job?”. The interview will be exploring potential 'staying power', performance, team fit and so on, based on previous track record. Questions that the interview might be asking themselves are – “Is this person a job-hopper?”, “Did they leave of they own accord or were they pushed?”, “Did they work well with the people around them?”. Never speak negatively about your previous / current employer at any time and clearly frame the real reason in a credible and positive light.    

8. 'Scruffy urchin'
First impressions count, big time. Bad personal grooming, creased clothing, unpolished shoes, mini-skirts, too much cologne and so on  creates totally the wrong impression and is likely to result in rejection, particularly for professional/customer facing roles.  

9. Down-talking 
Never talk-down about your current previous company, boss, people or environment as this will reflect badly on you and no one else (even if they were a complete nightmare to work with!). Talk about the positives, what you enjoyed and what you learnt, which could benefit performance in the job you’re being assessed for.

10. It’s out of your control!
Sometimes, it’s simply out of your control, no matter how well you performed at interview, it’s not going to happen. There are many potential factors that are out of your control – maybe an internal applicant has come through at the 11th hour, they might have decided not to recruit after all, you might not be the right personality fit, there might be skills requirements you’ve not been told about. Learn from the process and move on! 

What reasons for rejection after interview have you given or experienced? 

Friday, 17 August 2012

Ignore anonymous feedback

This afternoon, having blasted out a mailer to several hundred contacts, I've spent the last hour or so unsubscribing people and answering pointless (no benefit for they or me) comments. Something might come of this (it has before), but I have to say, this process is a little depressing and in terms of time spent versus results, I could be doing something better. 

Anyways, in comes a blog feed from Seth Godin (my favorite marketing guru) titled "You won't benefit from anonymous criticism". Sounds good, read on...

He says that he recently heard from a speaker who people had posted properly nasty comments about. He asserts that no author ever benefited from reading a bunch of crappy reviews.

He goes on to say that there are plenty of good ways to get useful and constructive feedback, starting with looking someone in the eye and having a direct one on one conversation or email correspondence with a customer who cares

Forms, surveys, mass emails, tweets and so on - all this will do he says is depress you, confuse you (no audience all want the same thing) or paralyze you. 

Seth argues that it's a positive habit to deliberately insulate yourself from this feedback. Don't ask for it and don't look for it. Improve what you do, but don't punish yourself by listening to the mob! Sounds good to me

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Why your Salary Offer Sucks

I recently read an interesting blog over at CBS News, by Suzanne Lucas, which resonated with me, as I run a recruitment agency near Cambridge, UK. She lists a bunch of reasons why you might receive a naff salary offer. The key is to always negotiate and I’m always surprised how so few candidates negotiate for a better deal. Perhaps they’re just happy to get a job offer in the current market. Either way, employers often expect candidates to negotiate, so go ahead and ask for an uplift – you’re selling yourself short otherwise. On the other hand, it might just be a naff offer. Here’s the list:
1. They expect you to negotiate. Many job offers are lower than what they are actually willing to pay. They expect you to make a counter offer and negotiate the final salary. People who don't negotiate miss out.
2. HR didn't give the full range. Typically, a salary range is pretty wide, supposedly based on market data - and no one usually gets hired close to the top or the bottom of the range.

3. The offer is terrible. It could just be a really terrible job offer. They happen. The job market still stinks and it's just possible that the manager decided to throw out a low-ball offer to see if you'd accept it.
4. Communication is terrible. This, unfortunately, is often the cause of problems. HR isn't communicating with the manager and vice versa. HR could have looked at the job and compared it to current market data and come back with the figure that you were quoted. However, the manager doesn't have that much money in his budget. Somehow that wasn't effectively communicated and you got told the ideal range instead of reality.
5. The position was downgraded. Just because you already have a master's degree doesn't mean you have all the requisite skills and experience. They may have just really liked you and decided to downgrade the job to fit your skills rather than rejecting you. Downgrades and upgrades happen all the time.
The important this to remember is always negotiate. It's part of the job-hunting process.