Oct 172012
 

We get lots of students telling us how difficult it can be to work with recruiters. They don’t understand why calls and emails aren’t returned. Here is some stark reality in the form for a rant from a student and our response. Enjoy!

“Hi GigSpire –
 
I’m feeling cranky about recruiters today! From my point of view, there is no measurable benefit in working with recruiters at all. I have to be even more of a squeaky wheel to get even a return message, just to hear second-hand about the thoughts of the hiring manager. I send a recruiter an email, and get a reply that indicates I’ll hear from them the next day. Then 3 days go by without a word. When I contact them again, they’ve miraculously *just heard* from the hiring manager… and the message is often that there’s no decision yet. Yes, this is my current experience, but it’s not remotely unique. <sigh>I could get this type of non-information run-around on my own, working directly with the employer. I’m unconvinced that I am being well promoted if this is any indication of their communication habits.

Thank you for being my sounding board. I don’t feel that I can actually tell these recruiters this in the remote chance that there is another position I could jump-through-these-hoops for.

Argh. Later

E.”

GigSpire’s Response:

Hi E,

Sorry to hear that you are cranky. You are about to get some information that may not make you feel warm and fuzzy.

Your experience working with recruiters is very common. When working with recruiters and headhunters realize that these people get paid to fill the orders of their clients. It is not their responsibility to market or promote you. You are a commodity, a piece of inventory, that they use to do their business. If their customer wants to purchase someone like you believe me that you will hear from them as they are motivated to close the deal.

It is erroneous to put the responsibility of not getting interviews in the hands of recruiters or headhunters. These organizations are merely channels, much like a job board, to help broadcast your availability. These professionals are aware of opportunities that you have no access to so exposing your candidacy to them is beneficial, but timing is everything. If they don’t have a fit for you, they don’t have a fit for you.

Make sure that you are doing your due diligence in your job search efforts. Ask yourself:

  • Am I attending 1-2 in person networking events per week?
  • Am I having 20 or more conversations with people in the marketplace about the business, the growth trends, and other interesting categories?
  • Am I calling into companies and speaking with peers and would be hiring managers to generate interest and set informational interviews?
  • Am I participating in groups on social media channels and videos, blogs and forums in order to position myself as a subject matter expert?
  • Are you conducting and reaching out to get informational interviews? Remember your goal should be to do 1 to 2 of these every week.
If your answer to the above questions is yes in each category, then something is going wrong and we should talk. I will be happy to talk with you about your efforts and help to redirect, or reposition, your approach.

If your answer to any of the above questions is no, then I hope you understand what you need to do. Remember there is an employer just hoping and praying you are going to walk in the door, help them understand how you will help his or her business and bring you aboard to accomplish those goals.

It’s up to you to walk in the right door.

GigSpire”

Sep 222012
 

GigSpire was asked:

“What are the pros of accepting a counter offer from your own company when you’ve found another job and what are the cons?”

GigSpire’s Answer:

Counter offers happen regularly, particularly if you are a good worker. The sad part is studies demonstrate that in most cases (some show more than 80%) people who accept a counter offer leave and start a new job in 6 months or less.

Here is why:

Most people choose to leave a company for more than money, status or prestige. Some of the reasons why people quit a job is a disconnect with the company culture, travel/commute, leadership and/or direction of the organization or upward mobility. Counter offers may provide the worker with more money, a new title and even more responsibility. In almost every case however, the main reason a person has decided to seek a new job cannot be resolved by a counter offer.

Once a counter offer is accepted, the joy of receiving the bump in pay or that promotion that has been promised for so long can sooth the pain of the real issue…for a time. As the “honeymoon” phase of this new situation dissipates, the real issues surface once again causing the worker to venture out into the marketplace to seek new employment…this time to get away from the true problem with the job.

The number one reason an employer will make a counter offer:

The hiring manager is caught off guard and cannot afford to have a business channel slow down while a replacement worker is sourced, hiring, trained and brought up to speed.

Counter offers are bad news because the worker now has a target on his or her back. The company now knows the person is unhappy and will most likely find a new job in the next 6 months…except now the company has time to prepare for the worker’s exodus.

All too often a person will accept a counter offer, be told they have an avenue for promotional opportunities as soon as they hire the replacement and train them…next thing you know the worker has trained his or her replacement with no real next step defined. Effectively that worker can now be released without a detriment to the functions of the business. Additionally the company that extended the original offer and was spurned by the counter offer is no longer interested in the worker.

People should realize that leaving a company is common in today’s work world, everyone leaves. Thinking about the people who will let down, projects that will go unfinished, leaving a boss “hanging”, the fear of change…all of these items become reasons for people to decide to accept a counter offer.

When a person gets a good job offer they should treat it like pulling off a bandage. Give 2 weeks notice, thank the company for the opportunity and the counter offer, decline and start the new job. We recommend our students not set themselves up for disappointment when the things that were wrong and caused them to want leave in the first place are not resolved by a counter offer.

Sep 192012
 

GigSpire was asked:

“With the rising costs of education and the foggy job outlook,how valuable is a college degree in today’s workforce? In fields where a degree is recommended but not required, does the increased pay a degree brings worth the cost of obtaining it?”
 

GigSpire’s response:

Today’s job market is clouded with question marks about the value of a college education. For those who are about to enter the professional workforce, nothing is more valuable than experience. For those who are currently investing in an education, make certain to get experience related to your field of study as soon as possible. This means get internships, minor jobs and even volunteer work. That exposure to the workforce will give you an upper hand against those who have the same degree but have never worked.

There are specific careers that absolutely require an advanced education and many of these are rooted in “white collar” professions. For many jobs though, even some that state in a job description that a degree is “required,” this is not necessarily so.

More than a degree, employers want competent people who are skilled and capable to do the job successfully. Professions like sales, administrative, retail, management and many others have no relevant bearing to the attainment of a degree. The degree requirement is often just a screening tool, used by employers to find people who have the ability to finish something once it is started.

Other professions do require an education or formal training of some sort such as mechanics, medical technicians and information technology workers. These positions may not require a 4 year degree but they do have a prerequisite foundation of knowledge to perform the work.

Addressing the perception that the college degree may not have value in the employment market is false. Studies have shown that people who have an advanced degree will earn on average $250,000 more than their non-degreed counterparts. Additionally the connections made and experiences learned in a college environment often are avenues for a person to grow by being exposed to so many different ideas, cultures and personalities.

Making the decision to complete a 4 year degree should not be made lightly. Individuals should evaluate their long-term career goals. For those who are unsure of their career path, we recommend taking some courses which can be done through online classes or through local community colleges at an affordable price.

People should never stop learning, whether in a formalized educational setting or not. If a person does choose to pursue a degree, the best way to maximize an immediate return on investment at graduation is to take steps to gain experience prior to graduation. Prepare by establishing a network of people to contact at least a year before completing the degree so that when you leave school, people know your name and can refer you into opportunities.

Nothing get a job faster than a good network.

Sep 132012
 

We were recently asked:

“What do most people mess up in an elevator pitch?”

GigSpire’s response:

Delivering an effective message is important whether you are making a sales presentation or trying to get an interview. Most people fail to do two things:

  1. Form a strategic thought or message to communicate
  2. Practice their elevator pitch

Strategy is important in almost anything we do and most people would agree that planning is a good thing. When it comes to a person’s elevator pitch most times they don’t plan it however, they “wing it” when asked what they do or are presented with a chance to introduce themselves.

The problem with this approach is we can easily be distracted and may not deliver a focused message that accurately relates our capabilities and wants/needs.

A format used in the GigSpire Program is the S.T.A.R. format:

  • Situation – Explain the problem in 15 seconds or less
  • Task – Identify a task or two tasks needed to solve the problem
  • Action – Identify the action you take to resolve the problem and address those tasks
  • Result – Explain the results of the actions you take to solve the problem

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

The entire pitch should be 90 seconds or less and the person should practice it so that it flows smoothly. We recommend practicing in front of a mirror or with another person to be sure and individual is comfortable delivering his or her elevator pitch.

Be sure to be prepared when asked about what you are looking for, that’s our advice!

Aug 312012
 

We were recently asked “What are the best tips for rebounding from a layoff?” Here is our response! 

Getting notice that you are being laid off hurts. You have now proven to be expendable, no longer worthy of employ at this location.

That kind of day can make you depressed for sure.

Like all depressing situations in life, you have a choice to make. You can decide to mourn, wallow in the loss, become petrified in the fear of how you will pay your bills or get a new job. Many people do…and they do it for too long.

Rebounding from a layoff requires a shift in mindset. People must realize that the only constant in life is change and changing jobs is merely a part of life. The days of working a lifetime for an organization with the promise of a pension to take care of us in our Golden Years is no longer a reality. You must take care of yourself, and here is the recipe to get back on track with your career.

Realize That Life Happens

Human nature reverts to feeling victimized during times of stress. Denial, seeking answers, blaming others…we all do it at first. We claim that situations “are not fair” and seek to justify why we have to deal with such a situation. We play the Blame Game.

Realize now that some things are beyond our control and when an employer decides to cut ties with us, the responsibility for finding new work is solely on our shoulders. We must take steps to increase the chances of finding employment and that comes from developing a plan to get back to work for a new employer.

Take an Inventory

Once the shock of receiving a notice of lay off has worn off (typically 2-5 days) the next step is to realize what we have to market to employers. In order to do this we must make a list of our:

  • Skills
  • Experiences
  • Accomplishments
  • Education & Certifications

This information becomes the framework for our marketing materials (aka your Resume) to present to employers.

Research

The next step is to identify companies that hire people like you. Research companies by industry, geography and the market they serve. Search out people with job titles similar to your target job on social media websites such as LinkedIn and realize that their employers hire people like you. Search out people with job titles that would be responsible for hiring someone like you. Identify Networking opportunities, online and in-person, that you might be able to attend to meet people in your industry.

Build Your Resume Effectively

Create your resume using a strategic methodology (of course we recommend the format taught in the GigSpire Program) that will appeal to all levels of resume reader. Ensure that you incorporate Keywords specific to your targeted industry. Build Search Engine Optimization (SEO) characteristics into your text to increase the chances of your resume surfacing when recruiters look for people with your skill sets. Post your resume in multiple locations (job boards, forums, social media websites) and be certain that any social media profiles reflect the same information in your resume.

Start Talking and Networking

No one is going to talk about you looking for work unless you get them talking. Get on the phone and tell everyone you know that you are looking for work. Ask if they know anyone who might be able to connect you with an opportunity. Attend networking events and mention that you are on the job search and see if the people you chat with are aware of any people who are hiring. Make calls into companies that hire people like you, regardless of if you see a job posted on their website.  Get conversations going to ferret out opportunities!

Get an Interview Buddy & Practice Interview Questions

As soon as you find yourself on the job search, immediately find one or several people that you can trade interview questions with daily. Practice your answers to common interview questions as well as your Elevator Pitch. Get feedback to become better and more comfortable presenting yourself and answering questions with stories of accomplishment that will help people understand you are a good worker.

Find a Support System

Seek out other people who are on the job search and meet with them regularly. Often groups meet through religious organizations, community outreach, government programs or even through social media websites. Meeting with others who are experiencing job search challenges will present you with ideas to consider, pitfalls to avoid and support and encouragement by the members of that group.

NEVER GIVE UP

Too many people become discouraged and give up, believing that jobs do not exist. That is not true.

Thousands of people find jobs everyday. You can too. Create a mindset that you WILL be successful in your job search as long as you work smart!

Follow the steps outlined above and you can rebound from a layoff!

Aug 212012
 

In our continuing series of Q&A with GigSpire experts we were asked:

“What can I do to be more effective in my job search. I feel disorganized, overwhelmed and I get tired. Any suggestions?” – Sarah
 

GigSpire’s response:

Sarah we understand how difficult the job search can be and we want to give you a few pointers on how to approach your day. Often just by following these few suggestions you will find your efforts more focused and more effective.

1. Make a To-Do List the Day Before

Just before you finish up from a hard day of looking for work, take about 15-20 minutes and evaluate your day. Make note of the important things to follow up on and schedule them. Also review your tasks for the next day, rank them in order of important and create a list of things to get accomplished. Keep your list reasonable (don’t put 100 things on it) and work steadily through the day to get things done. The effort of planning tomorrow’s work today, will make the day’s work go more smoothly and feel more directed.

2. Get Some Sleep

Sounds crazy but if you don’t sleep well, you will not perform well. Set yourself up for a productive day by getting to bed at a reasonable hour (no late night movie reruns or infomercials) and try to get at least 6 hours of sleep. Often stress can make it difficult to sleep well and there is plenty of stress doing the job search so to counter that stress we recommend our next step…

3. Exercise

You mean move around? Yes, we mean move around. Go to the gym, take a walk, do some push-ups, try some yoga, go for a swim…what ever you can do to get your heart pumping for about 20-40 minutes. Should you be someone who does not exercise regularly, no better time to start than now. Exercise releases endorphins and helps to alleviate stress that accumulates during the day and it can make a huge impact if you are one of the unfortunate that are affected by insomnia.

4. Eat Breakfast

“But I never eat breakfast…” Well change that, your brain and body need some power. Most people have gone without food during the night and the chemical makeup of your body is bound to be requiring some energy. Try to eat a balanced diet (skip the 3 bowl of Apple Jacks and try some oatmeal), get some fruit in there somewhere and yes, coffee is ok. By eating in the morning you give yourself some energy to get going. Studies have shown that people who fail to eat in the morning have difficulty in focusing on tasks.

5. Shower and Get Dressed for Work

Job search is work and getting dressed for work creates a subtle but important shift in the mindset of the job seeker. If you have been looking for work while chilling on the couch in your flannel jammies, you may find your motivation to power through the work is less. Treating your job search as if it was a paying job increases your respect for the importance of the activities. Plus if you happen to get the chance for a last minute lunch or coffee for networking, you aren’t stuck hoping you can get cleaned up in time to make the meeting.

6. Take 10 Minutes Breaks

Every two to three hours you should take a few minutes to disengage your brain from job search. Hop on Facebook, go for a stroll around the block, call your friend…just get away from work for a few moments. You will find that the time away will reset your energy levels and resolve to continue getting things accomplished.

 

Aug 142012
 

We are regularly asked to advise people on their job search.  Although we normally keep these sessions private, we thought this email exchange may be helpful to publish. In the initial email we received:

“Hi GigSpire,
I am looking for a job hardly.
can you please help me.
please please try to help me
kindly have a look into my CVThanks
Ahmed”

Automatically we knew that Ahmed needed assistance, with his CV and in how he communicates to others. Ahmed had several errors involving spelling, punctuation and sentence structure.

It is vital that a job seeker be aware of grammar and spelling in messages, resumes and social media profiles. Especially if you are searching for a job in the US, these details are critical to your evaluation. Employers will often discard your information if you do not communicate correctly.

If you are unsure about your skills in writing, get a friend to proofread your messages. Be proactive and learn to communicate the best you can, it makes a difference.

Jun 162012
 

In our continuing series of Q&A with the experts at GigSpire we address the topic of if being published and writing your own book helps in the job search. Enjoy the read!

We were asked:

“Does having a self-published book carry any weight for the job seeker?”

GigSpire: “Only if the book would be relevant to the employer or the company. Employers are interested in people who can solve their problems. Some management jobs might be a bit impressed due to the level of effort. Proposal writers, editing positions and other positions where the skill set would carry over would have a higher level of interest due to the skill set. Overall if the book’s subject matter and/or skill set fall into the sphere of concern of the potential employer, it can be viewed as a positive.

Is there a difference in value between entry-level vs executive-level job seekers?”

GigSpire: “In our opinion, a younger person being published would carry more weight based on the short tenure of his or her work life. Executives being published is a common occurrence so the quality of the content, strength of the experiences or foresight of his or her opinions would be a big factor in if the book would be impressive. As before though, much of the “impression factor” relates to the needs of the employer.”

“Does it matter if the book is related to their career focus, or is it just as impressive (or not) to have written a novel?”

GigSpire: “Career focus is a must unless we are discussing creatively driven positions. Writers, production personnel, and other creative professions appreciate a good tangent, inspiration often comes from those, but all things being equal a career focused writing is the most valuable.”

Be sure to check out our Job Search Tip on Being Published for more!

 

Jun 062012
 

In our continuing series of Q&A with the experts at GigSpire we tackle the topic of quitting a job professionally and starting a new job successfully. Enjoy the read!

We were asked “How to quit one’s job gracefully and transition into another career.” Here is our response:

When and How to Resign

The best way to approach your resignation is to wait until you have secured a formal written offer from another employer if at all possible. The next step is to inform your current manager that you will be resigning. Common standard in United States is two work weeks before your final day. There are many people who desire to give more notice to a current employer, some even asking for up to six weeks, however the standard is two weeks. Anything longer than that may begin to plant a seed of doubt in your future employer’s mind as to your eagerness to join their team.

Being Nervous

Nerves are normal for many people when resigning. Feeling nervous or anxious about communicating to an employer, particularly one that you like, is normal. Many people are often so uncomfortable that they will put off the conversation longer than is needed and even jeopardize their opportunity to start the new job.

The best way to approach the resignation is very similar to the cliché of how you remove a Band-Aid. There is often no easy way to do it so just do it. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you go to have this conversation.

  • Give Your Resignation In-Person
  • Don’t Burn Bridges
  • Be Gracious
  • Work Hard Until Your Last Day
  • Provide Written Notice

Starting Your New Job

The first day of work is often filled with excitement and a little anxiety. The potential for a new future, new opportunities and new accomplishments are on the path ahead. It is important not only for you individually, but for those you will be working with, that you start your first day in the right way. The first thing you can do is start by arriving 15 minutes before you are supposed to. Arriving early sends a positive message to most managers, communicating your enthusiasm for the activity without saying a word. Dress appropriately for the workplace, even one level above what is traditionally worn in the workplace for your first day. So if you work in an environment that is business casual (slacks and a button-down shirt for example) put on a tie and maybe even a jacket for your first day. Dressing one step above for your first day communicates a level of respect for the opportunity, once again without you having to say a word.

Items to Bring with You

  • Photo ID & I-9 Documents – The first day of work often involves filling out paperwork in order for the business to establish you as an employee of the company. You will need to bring information for your I-9 form, traditionally requiring at least one form of photo identification.
  • Notepad and a Pen – You will most likely speak with many people who can offer you helpful information that you should write down. You will also see some of the processes of the business that you should make note of.

Meeting Your Co-Workers

When meeting someone for the first time, make eye contact, smile and shake hands firmly. If possible write down the person’s name and what his or her role is because remembering this information later will make you stand out.

During your conversations try to find some common ground. Topics safe to discuss are hobbies, work roles and general subjects. A few things to be aware of:

  • Stay away from controversial subjects like religion, sex, drugs and politics.
  • Avoid comments about cultural and age differences.

Pay Attention

Over the course of the first few weeks of your new job, it is our recommendation that you speak less than you listen. Commit yourself to observing the way the business environment operates. By following the mantra “observe, observe, observe” you will increase your chances of discovering important but subtle information that will help you be successful in your first few months. The things you are looking for:

  • Business Processes – How work is done in your new organization.
  • Key Players – The people who get things done and can help you be successful.
  • Company Gossips – The people who know everything going on.
  • Corporate Culture – How the people operate within the organization

Get Your Paperwork Completed

HR will most likely provide documents on your first day that can include the employee handbook, tax forms, confidentiality and non-compete agreements and benefit information. It’s important to understand these documents. If you have questions, ask a friend or the HR representative to help. Make certain to get these documents back to the HR representative as quickly as possible to make his or her life easy and you will make an ally.

 

Jun 042012
 

In our continuing series of Q&A with GigSpire we were asked questions about what to ask before accepting a job. Enjoy the read!

We were asked:

What are some important questions a job seeker should ask an employer before accepting a job?
Job seekers should be asking employers questions that are relevant to thier needs in the job search. A job seeker has a responsibility to her or himself to identify those elements of a job that will be a determining factor in being happy and successful; each of these two factors being a critical element to long term employment. The job seeker should:

  • Know what motivates them about work. Is it money, knowledge, responsibility, commute…what is the biggest motivator and why?
  • Be aware of their skills and/or experiences and how they relate to the work.
  • Understand his or her individual career path or natural progression and how this work will help him or her get to the next level.

Without this knowledge the job seeker is left to ask questions that may or may not provide the information necessary to determine if the position will be of benefit. Think about asking directions when out driving but you do not know your destination, hard to get anywhere effective.

Once these important factors are identified the job seeker should ask questions that are geared towards satisfying their needs. For example if the job seeker is interested in growing his or her skill sets and taking advantage of educational benefits offered by the employer she or he may ask:

  • Are there any materials I can begin studying early?
  • What educational courses would be the most beneficial to my career when I use the educational benefit?

If the job seeker has not already done so in previous interviews he or she should definately clarify those factors that will be an evaluation point for success determination. Something such as:

  • What three things are the most important for me to get up to speed on when I start?

Of course the job seeker should also identify important elements such as:

  • Work location
  • Start date/time/ location (not always the same location as the worksite)
  • Any possible contingencies to the employment
  • Name of direct supervisor
  • Name of the Point of Contact on the first day
  • Salary or hourly rate (assuming negotiations have already taken place)
  • The benefits associated with the position (if any) and when they begin

Why are these questions so important?
Without a clear understanding of the details of the position and what it takes to be successful, the job seeker sets her or himself up for issues. These could be nothing more than a hiccup (benefits do not start for 30 days) to something huge such as the position was contingient on the employer winning a contract. Too often I have seen a scenario where a person quit a job only to find out the new position was not available when planned because the company failed to win the work.

Much like monitoring all of the details when driving a car, a job seeker must be “plugged in” to the entirety of the opportunity to prevent potential pitfalls later. Asking about the details is important.

What is it that the job seeker should be getting out of these questions?
The information the job seeker gains from these types of questions provides clarity about the role, compensation and organizational expectations. It also provides the offering organization an opportunity to echo the message it has communicated to the job seeker throughout the interview process. Asking these questions creates the opportunity to hear conflicting information and if discovered, to probe for the correct information. Too many companies recruit with a great opportunity only to offer a dud job once the person starts, better to find out before starting.

What’s the right way to approach the employer with these questions (over the phone, in an email)?
Email communication limits the amount of information that can be communicated. In-person, if possible, is the best way to ask important questions since humans communicate more through body language than any other means. Most often at the offer stage however, these questions are asked over the phone. Job seekers should pay particular attention to the “tonality” of the other person’s voice when asking questions and feel comfortable with the answers they are receiving.

Remember if they are offering you a job, they want you. Make certain you want them as well!