November 25, 2007

Job Hunting on the Edge

I gave a lot of thought about my chosen topic this week. There are a lot of opinions and ideas out there. It is my hope that you have created your Marketing Plan and are utilizing it. When you're in the job hunt waiting for that phone to ring, no idea really seems too crazy or out there depending on your mood. I've kept this in mind as I discuss three ways to job hunt on the edge.
  • Marketing Portfolio. Create a Marketing Portfolio with examples of your works, business card, and some personal touches that are truly you and mail it to the hiring manager. Include a letter that asks for the interview and a time when you will follow up with them. I suggest that you either research the business section of your local newspaper or send this portfolio to your newly found network. An example of a Marketing Portfolio for a Public Relations Assistant could include an invitation he created for a local fundraiser gala, several press releases that include the AP style, a brochure that he created, a copy of his business card, and a personal letter that outlines his experience, asking for the job, and when he will be contacting the hiring manager to follow up. Yes, it's a lot of work, but this Portfolio makes a huge impression. I would be impressed, and even if this candidate was not hired, I would be more likely to refer him to a networking contact. A friend of mine is a radio DJ. He was interested in working for a particular radio station and sent his Marketing Portfolio in a shoe. He made an impression and was offered the job.

  • Cocktail Networking Party. Get some friends and networking contacts together and invite them to a Networking Cocktail Party. Host it at your home and choose a theme like the roaring 20's. Shamelessly plug that you are in the job market and watch the doors open. Ask each of your invitees to bring a friend or contact to help you in the job hunt. Be budget conscious and ask close friends to each bring a finger food dish and drink of choice. Make your own invitations and send via email. A cute and memorable guest gift could be a wine glass with your business card attached reminding your friend or peer why they are really here.

  • Place a Billboard Ad. A billboard is a great way to get noticed and grab the attention of a hiring manager when they least expect it. You have their undivided attention for 15 seconds on their daily commute. I'm not talking about breaking the bank and running an ad with a several large high tech television billboards. Those can easily run $10K a mo. I have several billboards right now that are very budget friendly running at $350/mo. each. This doesn't include the production cost of the banner that covers the billboard, but depending on your negotiating skills, you could work out a deal with the billboard company.

I've chosen 3 very distinct ways to give you an edge in the job hunt. Not all ideas will work for you. Use your creativity. Maybe it means stepping up your networking or volunteering at an agency for the holidays.

Next time. . . The Marketing Plan Revisited

November 17, 2007

The Skinny on Headhunters

I've talked alot about Recruiters and what they do. But what is the difference between a Recruiter and a Headhunter?

A recruiter typically is an employee of the company they are recruiting for. They are trying to fill various open positions within their organization. Usually, the recruiter will conduct the first interview which is typically over the phone. Once you have been pre-qualified, you are then passed on to the hiring manager or manager that has the vacant position.

A headhunter does not work for the company that has the vacant position. They either have a contract to directly fill the position, or they do not have a contract and are representing you as a candidate and trying to sell "you" to the company for a fee or percentage of your annual salary. When speaking with a headhunter than has contacted you, make sure to ask about the position as well as if they have a contract with company "x" to fill the position. Depending on your industry, I believe headhunters who have a direct contract will allow you a better chance of getting your resume in front of the company. The fee headhunter that does not have a contract with company x and tries to represent you to a number of different companies, but unless you are in a very desireable industry like Pharmacy, Healthecare, or a high level Executive position, it's a crap shoot. The Headhunter needs to have a ton of connections and depending on what industry and where you are located at, can be particularly challenging. If you speak with a fee headhunter, ask questions about their experience in the industry and what their specialities are. I would suggest researching your industry to determine which type of headhunter works best for you.

The headhunter will set up a phone pre-qualifiying interview where they will ask you questions to determine if you are qualified for the position they are contracted to fill or if you are marketable to a number of companies that have open positions. Understand that while you are in the job hunt, you might receive a number of phone calls from headhunters, participate in phone interviews, and possibly never hear from them again. Realize that unless you are marketable and are going to make the headhunter money, they will not contact you as a courtesy or send a turn down letter.

Next time. . . Job Hunting on the Edge

November 14, 2007

The Art of Networking

Networking, it's everywhere, but what does it really mean? It's more than just collecting business cards. Frankly, networking is a whole lotta work.

To me networking is developing long-lasting relationships with key individuals who can serve a purpose and benefit to you in your career or with your organization while doing the same for themselves, creating a mutual partnership.

Good networking, I mean really good networking takes time and effort. You have to get out there and attend community events outside of your group of regular friends. I recommend attending community events outside of your field or industry and get out there. And by getting out there, I mean engaging in conversation with a number of individuals. Asking them questions, introducing yourself, and exchanging business cards. Some networking events could include your local gardeners club, chamber events, young professional groups, women's league, or joining a board for a non-profit organization. I, myself am the member of several local human resource organizations, toastmasters, several local chambers of commerce, and volunteer for a local non-profit agency. In total, I roughly spend about 10-20 hours a month attending networking events, but networking doesn't just stop there.

Okay, so you have joined your local chamber, attended several meetings, and exchanged business cards with a handful of individuals of interest, now what?? I recommend following up with each person individually either by email, a personal note, or by phone within two weeks of your initial meeting. Invite them to lunch or a brunch you are hosting at your place of business, but make sure to follow up with them every couple of weeks or months depending on the situation.

Networking is a job within itself but over time it can pay big dividends. The key is to pick your partnerships and agencies that you want to align yourself with carefully. Always have your business card handy. Don't be afraid to be aggressive. Make the first effort and pass out your card. Ask the person questions and follow up. All in all, just get out there and expand your horizons!

One of the biggest mistakes I feel college students and other professionals make is limiting their networking to college and university clubs or clubs in their professional industry only. One of the best pieces of advice I can give to students or those who will be entering the job hunt is focusing on ways to differentiate themselves from other students or professionals who are their competition for open positions. A great way to do this is to join local professional organizations and get out there! In my opinion, these professional associations outside of the college and field of are very important if not more important than resume builders like summer internships. These networking connections can land the student unposted internships, other career opportunities, and relationships that can last for years to come!

Another great resource for networking is using social networking sites like linkedin, facebook, myspace, and friendster. When using these sites it's important to target your network and follow up with them timely. Don't just collect friends. Use those resources. Remember to be tasteful with your pages and comments. I have often used these sites not only for networking purposes but to follow up with candidates and evaluate their interests outside of work. As these online resources continue to increase in popularity, I believe they will become even more important in developing relationships. In some professional circles, Myspace and Facebook profiles are viewed as extensions of the resume. A recent candidate included their Myspace link on their resume. I was especially impressed when I viewed the candidate's page, very tasteful and professional but also fun-loving showcasing her interests and other talents outside of work.

Quick Networking Tips!!

-Get some professional business cards made with contact information including your web page and email. Include your online blog or myspace page link if you like.
-Research organizations and align yourself with those that will provide you the most exposure in the job search.
-Get out there. Make time. Try to attend 2 events a month.
-Be aggressive! Market yourself and make a great first impression.
-Get personal. Write a hand written not on the back of your business card to make a lasting impression.
-Think long term and don't forget to sell yourself.
-Give a firm handshake.
-Follow up
-Follow up

Next time. . . The Skinny on Headhunters

November 11, 2007

Why a Phone Interview???

A phone interview is a great non-commital way for the recruiter to get a bit more information about you and how your skills and qualifications can be utilized in the position the recruiter is looking to fill. Typically, phone interviews last about 30 minutes. Generally, I ask about 4 questions.

One of my biggest pet peeves when I conduct the phone interview is the candidate not being prepared for the interview. Remember the name of the person you are supposed to interview with. Write it down!!! Because the interview is over the phone, it's easy to do this. Prepare for the phone interview like any other interview. Dress for the interview. I'm not suggesting doning a suit and tie, just be comfortable. Have your resume, questions for the interviewer, and your STARs ready.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, keep a file of all the positions you have applied for, the name of the company, and the job descriptions. This will help you get a better idea of what skills to highlight in the phone interview. If the recruiter is looking for a payroll/HR admin who has Peoplesoft and crystal reports experience, you want to highlight your experience with these programs and not other programs like SAP and ADP. Without proper preparation, you could be showcasing the wrong skills and qualifications, thus, disqualifying you for the position.

Generally, I try to focus on three skills that the advertisement listed as requirements of the position. For the HR Admin position the ad might look something like this-

XYZ Corp is now hiring for HR Administrator/Payroll Clerk. Candidate must have 4 years experience with Peoplesoft and Crystal Reporting, Benefits administration, and Employee Relations. PHR certification is preferred but not required. Strong computer and Microsoft Office skills are a must. . .

Now, take three of these skills and highlight your own. Let's go with Peoplesoft, Benefits, and Employee Relations. All three of these are important skills to have and are specific to a HR Admin. Strong computer skills are nice but someone who is a secretary could have computer skills. You want to set yourself apart from the rest. Use your STARs to highlight these three skills. See my previous post for more information about STARs.

It's also important during the phone interview to keep distractions to a minimum. Don't schedule a phone interview while you are babysitting your neices, walking your dogs, or cooking the kids dinner. Don't laugh. These are some of the excuses I have encountered when interviewing a candidate. Make sure your phone is charged. Conduct your interview in a quiet place free of distractions.

As the interview questions come to the close, don't forget to ask some questions about the position like, "How many people would I be processing payroll for and weekly or bi-weekly?" "Where is the position located?" "What are you (the interviewer) looking for in someone in the HR Admin/Payroll position?"

Like any good sale make sure to ask for the job. I recommend asking what's the next step. Often times during the phone interview you will be invited for the face to face interview at the conclusion of the phone interview.

After the interview, I recommend sending a short email or snail mail thank you to the recruiter. Do this within one business day. You want to make sure and keep your interview and your qualifications fresh in the hiring manager's mind. Don't phone stalk the recruiter. They will contact you. Please understand that a recruiter will have many other positions they are recruiting for at the same time. A simple email or phone call to follow up a week to two weeks is appropriate. Do not call the recruiter more than twice a week.

I am often blown away by the tone and attitude of candidates who are calling me back to set up an interview. Yes, I called you and left a message but understand I am busy. Just last week I was out of the office for two days at job fairs. When I returned I had over 35 messages. When I called one candidate back, he told me that he thought I had died. (I'm not kidding!!!) I responded with no, I'm still here, but I'd love to set you up for an interview. Most recruiters would not be so forgiving. What impression do you want to leave your hiring manager with???

Next time. . . the art of networking

November 7, 2007

Making an Impression at the Job Fair

Job fairs aren't just for grads anymore. This week alone in OKC I have attended 3 separate job fairs as a recruiter and met about 800 candidates like yourself. Job fairs are a great way to meet with your prospective employer in a nonformal setting on neutral ground like your local college or other venue. It's important when attending a job fair to be prepared. Bring your marketing materials including your personal business cards, resumes, and a smile. Dress appropriately because you want to make a lasting impression on the recruiter you are speaking with. Out of the 800 candidates I met with this week only a handful really stood out. It's your job to be one of the few and being prepared is a great start.

The handshake is also very important at the job fair. Offer a firm handshake and introduce yourself and start selling!!! Ask questions about the job and highlight your skills based on the information they provide. Ask for the interview!!! Many recruiters often conduct interviews at the job fair and make job offers that same day so expect the unexpected and be prepared.

I also suggest that if a list of exhibitors is available prior to the job fair, do some research. Determine which companies you are most interested in speaking with, do some internet surfing and get familiar with the company's history, open positions, their locations and culture, and financial information. If the company you are interested in is traded on Wall Street or Nasdaq check out websites like and do some research about industry stability, the company's financial outlook, and any negative or positive press. By being prepared and asking the right questions, you will make a great impression and improve your chances of getting an interview.

Next time. . . Phone interviews-when, why, and how

November 5, 2007


The STAR interview technique is a sure fire way to ace the interview everytime.
  • S stands for Situation
  • T for Task
  • A for Action
  • R for Result

The STAR method works like this. When asked an interview question, you begin by describing the Situation or Task first. The next step is by explaining the Action involved or steps you took to meet your goal or accomplish a task. Finally, you provide the interviewer with the Result which can include your success, failure, or lessons learning. I suggest sticking to the successes and wow them with the lessons learned. Keep that interview positive!!!

It's easy to use the STAR technique. The key is to providing an answer the interview question that relates to the position you are interviewing for. Do some research prior to the interview about the company and the position requirements. Keep a log or journal of the positions and their qualifications you have applied for. You will want to highlight the important skills and qualifiacations the company listed for the position using the STAR technique. This is extremely important. You wouldn't talk about your experience with accounts payable reconciliation if the position was a Lab Technician would you?

When you are faced with an interview question such as, "Tell me about a time when you faced a situation where you exceed expectations."


I was responsible for creating a marketing plan for a United Way fundraising campaign at my office for 300 employees. Our goal was to have 45% participation for the event and raise over $25,000 in donations.


I worked with my United Way representative regarding best practices and researched information about other successful campaigns at different businesses in our geographic region. Additionally, I created a United Way committee that met bi-monthly starting three months prior to the campaign and developed a marketing campaign that included fliers, emails, table tents, and a company wide kickoff meeting. We worked together to create a fun and exciting campaign with the help of our local United Way.


The result was that we the campaign exceeded our expectations. My company raised over $37,000 and had a participation rate of 51%! We were recognized our the annual United Way banquet for our efforts and received an award for the small to medium size business category. What I learned from the campaign was the importance of planning and utilizing your resources. Several employees on the committee had served in similar positions and were one of the keys to our success.

HMMMM. . . Sounds good, right!!!

I suggest using the STAR method for every interview question that begins with, "Tell me about a time" or "Give me an example." It's the best way to stay on track during the interview, not lose focus, or ramble which trust me, happens all too often. Prior to the interview, I suggest coming up with 3 or 4 STAR examples. Practice these with a friend or tape record yourself and listen. Make changes to your presentation as needed and feel confident.

You'll be amazed. All sales and marketing professionals have a script from which they use to perfect their sales pitch and technique. Your interview should be no different especially given all the work you've gone getting their attention with your billboard-resume, coverletter, and emails. It's time to put your money where your mouth is!! Searching for job is a full time job and preparation is key. You wouldn't blindly take a midterm exam without studying or buy a car without doing some sort of research either online or using consumer reports?

Next time. . . Making an impression at the job fair. It's not just for college graduates anymore.

November 4, 2007

Perception is Reality

Come on guys. I know you have heard this. If you dress professional, you act and feel professional. It's so true!! Not only that, you leave a lasting impression on your interviewer. Not too long ago, a candidate arrived for an interview in jeans, a wrinkled dress shirt that had a stain. Yikes! Immediately, the impression was, "Who was this bum?" Interestingly enough, I met this candidate at a job fair. He had a resume in hand, suit, and tie. WOW! I was very impressed. Needless to say, the guy didn't get the job. Was it only because of his interview ensemble? No, but it definetely started the interview out on a sour note.

When I interview for a job I am interested in, I arrive early and sit in my car for about 10 min. I do visualization. I envision myself qualified for the job and saying all the right things. I also think of positive words and qualifications I know I posess. It's kind of like pumping yourself up before the big game. If you come into the interview not believing in yourself, how do you think you will be able to articulate your qualifications and skills in the interview? Not so much I'm imagining.

Arriving to your interview on time and looking your best is all part of your Marketing Plan I've talked so much about. It's all about the packaging. You wouldn't buy a car that was dirty, smelly, and covered in muck. So why present yourself for an interview like that?

Two days before the interview, run through your dress and try everything on. How you would dress for an interview depends on the position you are interviewing for as well as the company and its culture. How you would dress for a legal assistant in a conservative law firm is completely different from a graphic designer with a trendy, progressive company. Get a friend to give you their honest opinion and first impression. Take your clothes to the dry cleaners and get them pressed professionally. Be conservative with dress, makeup, and jewelry. Don't wear over overpowering cologne or perfume. Good luck!!

Next time. . . Interviewing Technique for almost any interview question