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Job Hunting Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

For every person who wakes up one day to a recruiting call for a perfect job, there are 100 people who must pound the sidewalk/internet for openings. Job Hunting has changed dramatically since the introduction of the internet, 30 years ago you did pound the pavement. You had 1 to 200 copies of your resumes in envelopes and you basically went and knocked on doors. "Do you have any openings?", "Here's my resume just in case something comes up". Networking was still important only it was done by word of mouth. "Jimmy's daughter is looking for a job" was a refrain through the workplace, clubs and soccer pitches. And yes my first job came from my dad's friend's girlfriend who worked for Ontario Hydro. Lucky Me!

Job Hunting might be the hardest job you ever do. You want to find the perfect job. You want to be fussy. There are 2 categories of Job Hunters and depending on which category you are can make the hunt more or less stressful.

You already have a job:

Needless to say, if you are the job hunter who already has a job but is looking for a change or upgrade, the stress you have you are putting on yourself. Maybe you don't like your boss or your job. Yes, it is time to move on, looking for a job while you have a job is still the best scenario. Because you aren't behind the 8 ball, you can wait for the perfect position. Hiring Managers will have to make you a competing offer.

YOU DON'T HAVE A JOB:

Other than maternity leaves or going back to school, being out of a job for any length of time can make that climb back into the workforce extremely difficult. Employers start to wonder why no one else has hired you.

FOR BOTH SCENARIOS DON'T FALL INTO THESE PITFALLS:

Getting discouraged is inevitable but try to focus on the positive. Negativity will come across in your interviews. Treat each interview as a learning experience.

Don't take rejection as a negative, it's not that they don't like you, it might just be that the other candidate had something extra to offer. Ask for feedback. What do you need to do to move forward with this company? If this position isn't for you ask about other openings in the company. Keep in touch with the Interviewer and Hiring Manager.

Try not to apply to every job on every job board. Chances are if you are interviewed for a job you don't want, you won't present well in the interview. Interviewing for jobs you want will make you more positive and exuberant about the position.

Don't try and trick the systems by applying to the same job with different emails and changing your name around. Yes, people do that. It clutters up databases and can make you appear desperate.

Networking still works. It can be embarrassing to be out of work, your first reaction can be to hide your unemployment. Some companies give their employees bonuses for referrals. People like helping people, let them. Even just a referral to their recruiter will help you get the door open and pass the 1000's of resumes that recruiters receive in their inboxes. Don't hide. Put it up on LinkedIn, mention it to the parents at your child's hockey game, everyone knows someone who knows someone. You never know where your break will come.

Forget that times change. Systems are updated, there are new languages. You may just have to bite the bullet and go back to school or upgrade those certifications. If you have been out of work for a while, be prepared to lower your expectations both re salary and management positions.

Highlight your achievements when job hunting. Looking back on your career, pick out the key times when you really made a difference. Duties are boring, make your career a story that people want to read and add a chapter too.

Keep in mind there are some great resources out there for job hunters, from government programs to internships to using a professional recruiter. Take advantage of their expertise and remain positive your door will open.


What should you do after your Interview?

 

Interviews come in many shapes and forms. The telephone interview, the video interview, the first interview, progressing hopefully to the 2nd, 3rd and job offer stage. There are things you can do to help you through each stage and give you an advantage when you get the call for the next interview. As you leave the interview, smile, shake hands, ask for business cards, make sure to ask the always important question of "When do you expect to make a decision?" and then head over for a coffee to help settle those interview jitters. Don't just bask in the warmth of your favourite coffee (go ahead add extra sugar and cream) get out your phone, tablet or good old fashioned note book and start making notes about the interview.

WHAT WAS YOUR OVERALL IMPRESSION OF THE INTERVIEW?

  • How long did it last? First interviews should last between 30 minutes and an hour.
  • Were you relaxed? Did something happen that flustered you? It could just be a little thing, maybe you had your hard copy of your resume in your right hand which made it awkward to shake hands. Great next time you'll know to keep your right hand free. Were you running a little late? Nothing worse than running into your interview without a chance to catch your breath or take a minute to pat down your subway blown hair or check your teeth for broccoli.
  • Did your elevator pitch work? Was it too short, no personality, did you talk too fast. These are all things you can correct for the next step.

DID YOU PROVE YOU ARE QUALIFIED FOR THE JOB?

  • Did you do well on the technical and job description related questions? Write down the questions you can remember. Grade them – which ones need improvement, which ones you could expand on and how you could improve your answers for the next interview. Highlight your strong points and make sure to mention them in the “Thank you Note”.

DID YOU DAZZLE THEM WITH YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE COMPANY?

  • You already have your questions written down that you asked them about the job and the company (RIGHT). Again, grade them, which ones impressed the interviewers, which ones were not answered to your satisfaction (ie future growth, training, etc).
  • Do you need to do more research on the company, especially on their plans for the future and where their growth is?

WRITE A THANK YOU NOTE

Some people are made to be in a supervisory position, other people find it very challenging. There is nothing wrong with either side. It is important for you to analyze yourself and decide if you like and want the extra challenges that go with supervising people.

  • After you have analyzed how the interview went go home and write a professional but personal thank you note.
  • Thank you for their time.
  • Expand on why you are a good fit for this position and the company. Be specific, don’t just generalize. “My background in leading and mentoring a team of 7 developers while at … will …..”
  • Tell them how much you enjoyed the interview and that you are looking forward to their call.

CONNECT/NETWORK

  • Should you connect on LinkedIn? Check them out for sure, if they have 500+ connections then go ahead and request a connection. If they only have a few connections then wait until you get the job. Should you connect on LinkedIn? Check them out for sure, if they have 500+ connections then go ahead and request a connection. If they only have a few connections then wait until you get the job.
  • Definitely follow their company accounts, ie Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  • Stay away from their personal accounts.

ARE YOU WORKING WITH A RECRUITER?

  • Call them after you finish your notes. Let them know what you thought of the interview and whether you want to pursue the job. Most recruiters have a good rapport with their clients and are able to get a good idea of how you did in the interview. What they liked about you and what you need to improve. These insights will help you in future interviews.

Every job interview is a learning experience. Be critical, be positive. Don't wing it. At the end of the interview, you need to decide do you want the job or not. Is this a company I want to work for, is it the environment I want to spend 5 days a week working in. Your notes and your analysis will help you make educated decisions in finding and attaining the right position for you.


8 Questions to Ask Yourself when Changing Careers

It is important to assess or clarify exactly what you are looking for short term and also where you want to be long term.  Remember when changing your career it also affects your family life and your social life.  Here are 8 questions to help you analyze your next career change:

  • What is your objective
  • What type of organization
  • Supervisory or not
  • Salary
  • Type of employment
  • Location
  • New technologies
  • You and/or your family

1. WHAT IS YOUR OBJECTIVE?

  • Are you looking to gain new skills?
  • Do you want to move into a leadership position?
  • What technologies do you like working with the most?
  • Where do you want to be in 5 years and what will help you get there?

2. WHAT TYPE OF ORGANIZATION?

  • Is there a specific industry you are interested in, ie finance, manufacturing, health, government?
  • Would you be interested in a large national/international company where there is room for transfers to other locations?
  • How about a start-up?  Do you have the skills that could take a start-up to the next level? Or just like the excitement of new and innovative environments?
  • Do you like bureaucracy or are you more comfortable in a family environment?

3. SUPERVISOR OR NOT?

Some people are made to be in a supervisory position, other people find it very challenging.  There is nothing wrong with either side.  It is important for you to analyze yourself and decide if you like and want the extra challenges that go with supervising people.

  • Do you like a challenging puzzle? If you like getting involved in a puzzle then supervising might not be for you.
  • Supervising means making time for people and their problems and idiosyncrasies.
  • You have to be tough and soft and fair.

4. HOW IMPORTANT IS SALARY?

  • Is money the most important thing in your life right now?  No shame in admitting this.  Money makes the world go round and helps you buy a house, go on a vacation, or pay off a loan.
  • Is learning a new skill more important than the salary?
  • Is this a good time to add extra experience and education to your resume and not worry as much about the salary?  Sometimes a long term career path means not necessarily going for the big pay cheque.

5. CONTRACT OR PERMANENT?

  • Do you like the security of a permanent position?  These can include scheduled raises, health benefits, vacation time, possibility for advancement.  Your job may be like your family.

OR

  • Are you more comfortable being a contractor and being your own boss.  Like having control of your salary and where the write-offs go.  The larger salary compensates for time off between jobs.  Do you like the idea of being able to take a summer off or travel for 4 months?  Do you find that new people, new systems, new companies enhance your work experience or do they stress you?

6. LOCATION – TO COMMUTE OR NOT?

Commuting is a big deal breaker on my list.

  • Do you like to drive?
  • Are you and the company close to public transportation?
  • How about the expense of car, parking, public transportation?
  • How long does the commute take?  Are you going to be happy with needing an extra 2 hours for transportation?
  • Don't forget to think about those long Canadian winters when you factor in commuting.

7. comfortable with NEW AND INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES?

Are you comfortable with the technologies you are using or do you want to train with the new technologies on the marketplace?

  • Keep up to date on new/emerging technologies and what companies/systems are using them.
  • What’s hot, what’s not?  COBOL, Java, Hadoop.  What companies offer training in the new technologies?
  • Read industry publications to keep up to date on emerging technologies.
  • Do you need to go back to school or take a course/certificate?

8. what about YOU AND YOUR FAMILY?

Times change and so do you.  Just graduated, no family ties – then long hours and travelling with your job are great.  Add a family into the scenario or have an older parent you need to help with.  Your needs change and so do theirs.

  • There is nothing more fun than coaching one of your kids at yours/their favourite sport.  Will the new job provide the opportunity to get home early enough for that?
  • Does the new company have a day care centre?
  • Health Benefits can make a huge difference in your life style.
  • Older parents, spouse’s career, are you at an age when you would like a little more time off.  These are all factors that you have to analyze when you are looking for a new position.

WHAT FACTOR IS THE DEAL BREAKER FOR YOU?

Everyone has different needs.  As you grow in your career your needs will change.  It’s important to analyze each factor for each time in your life.  Be honest!!  Changing careers and companies is a hard decision and not something you want to regret.
Start with these 8 questions and analyze each one.  


  Why are Law Firms Hiring Project Managers?
Lawyers plan, execute matters against scope, have deadlines, manage budgets, manage teams, manage stakeholders, remove obstacles, ensure efficient communication between clients and internal groups, and review the matter at the end to determine lessons learned before closing cases.
Sounds familiar? 

These are all project management tasks performed by lawyers on a daily bases. Nevertheless, a project that is titled a legal matter is still a project.

The Dilemma
Although Lawyers perform project management tasks, it does not make them accomplished Project Managers. Lawyers are subject matter experts. They specialize in a specific type of law, e.g. labour, criminal, corporate, property etc. Lawyers perceive any other work to be a distraction to their business. Lawyers also manage case files by doing the proverbial deep dive looking for the small letter of the law that will give them an upper hand in the legal case. They seldom look at the big picture to understand the external risk factors or have an appreciation for keeping all the stakeholders and clients informed about process and cost.

The Solution

Hire a dedicated Project Manager to work side-by-side with a lawyer! The Project Manager can focus on the processes associated with a legal case or matter. The lawyer is unhindered to focus on the legal work only. No distractions. Project Managers are natural leaders that enjoy working at the process level, and lawyers are book smart savvy academics that work with theory and stay at the policy level.

  1. There are various benefits linked with hiring a dedicated PM, including;
    Being Cost Effective – By assigning PMs to run legal processes, the legal firm is releasing lawyers to do other core legal work. Clients benefit because they are charged the lower PM rate as opposed to the higher lawyer rate for non-legal work. Lawyers are unrestricted to increase billing hours for core legal work.
  2. Separation of Duties – since PMs are not schooled lawyers, there is a clear distinction between duties. The lawyer does the legal work, and the PM does the planning, and process work.
  3. Leadership Skills – The law firm attains another leader in an organization that is a divided between lawyers and administrative staff. Legal cases are managed as projects with clear expectations, dates, and cost.
  4. Client Satisfaction Leads to Repeat Business – Clients are managed as stakeholders and are informed promptly about budgets and timeline changes. Project management is after all 90% communication. The Project Manager monitors the case, communicate more readily with the client and make sure expectations are clear and don’t suffer from too much legal jargon.
  5. Help with Technology – Lawyers live in a world where Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data are growing exponentially. AI has already assisted lawyers to work more efficiently, providing legal research through automated hunts of case law and statutes, proofreading, error correction, finding missing information, document formatting and correcting inconsistent linguistic use. Data mining, pattern recognition, and matching can be applied for many purposes, including digital forensics, fraud and insider trading investigations.  With the assistance of a technical savvy PM, it helps the lawyer process information that at a manual level would be unworkable. With DNA matching, historic cold case crimes can be resolved, not to mention the impact of present-day techniques of validating evidence.
  6. Certified Professional – In addition to the PMP certification, the PM working at a legal firm, can obtain the Legal Project Professional™ (LPP) certification that recognizes a person with practitioner expertise about Legal Project Management and can lead legal matters as a legal Project Manager.
  7. The Competitors are Hiring PMs – Large Legal firms are hiring PMs. A Washington DC firm, Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig, which focuses primarily on corporate and business law, recently brought on Ms. Deanna Burke, PMP as its first COO. Deanna has over 15 years of experience in IT project management, primarily in the aviation industry, where she led initiatives such as implementing air traffic management solutions.

The Opportunity
Hiring PMs to work with Lawyers is a win-win for Law firms. Lawyers are free to do legal work, and PMs has a new industry to influence and optimize the industry.
Go out there, my fellow colleagues. Opportunity knocks for you to sell your capabilities! It will be nice indeed to be on the same side of a Lawyer

Written in collaboration between Jim Carlson and a Consultant Program Principle


Can Emotional Intelligence (EI) be the New Benchmark for Hiring the Best PMs?
About one year ago, I read this truly thought-provoking research paper1 that raised a noteworthy question – can we increase hiring success using Emotional Intelligence to place the right PMs on the right projects?  

Background

We have all been there!We interview a remarkable candidate that has all the correct answers, qualifications, experience, and knowledge to be successful in his or her new PM Job. Nevertheless, for some unknown reason, the wonderful candidate is not a good fit, the troops are in an uproar, the client complains, and you have to find a replacement candidate quickly to mend the relationship fences. What gives? Why did this flawless candidate not succeed in his/her new role? How did you drop the ball? What is the secret sauce of hiring the right candidate for this innovative transformation project?

Is There a Better Way?

The feedback you received from your client is that your candidate wasn’t a good fit culturally for the organization. What it means is that the organization or project functions differently than the candidate. When the organization wants to go faster he/she wants to go slower, when they are strategic, he/she is tactical etc. Can we say “soft skills” quagmire?

According to J. Rodney Turner, PhD. and Ralf Müller, the authors of “Choosing Appropriate Project Managers”1, a PMs EI including Emotional (EQ), Managerial (MQ), and Intellectual (IQ) are all contributors to project success. Turner and Müller also advocate that EQ has a more significant impact on project management success than MQ, and IQ with some leadership competencies within EQ being more important to others depending on the type of project. Turner and Müller conducted semi-structured interviews and used a web-based questionnaire with over four hundred usable responses. The research that was published by the Project Management Institute, Inc. in 20061 supports the hypothesis that a PM’s leadership style and EI competencies contribute to project success, and the type of projects he/she will be successful at delivering for the organization.  

What the Research Tells Us

Emotional Intelligence (EQ), was the most prevalent for successful project outcomes. PMs must be emotionally intelligent to be successful. It makes it imperative that a hiring manager identifies the leadership competencies when recruiting PM candidates. 
Based on this PM leadership competencies the most successful PMs are motivated achievers, critical thinkers that are self-aware with strong resource skills. 

Key Data Points

IT and Renewal PMs have identical EI profiles, and PMs managing Repositioning and Organizational Change projects have similar leadership competencies
High-performing, high complexity projects or programs will require a PM with high ratings on all leadership competencies (EQ, MQ and IQ)
PM in high-performing, mandatory (Compliance) projects show strong competencies in critical thinking (IQ), conscientiousness (EQ), influence (EQ), and managing resources (MQ)
Repositioning projects require strong EQ, as well as empowering (MQ), managing resources (MQ), and critical thinking (IQ)

5 Changes to Incorporate into Your Hiring Process

1. Recognize the types of projects that your client undertakes, and the appropriate leadership styles for every kind of project
2. Identify the leadership styles of your PM resource pool (use a Leadership Dimensions Questionnaire (LDQ) tool that measures EI accurately)
3. Further, develop the specific leadership skills that are in high demand based on your client’s market
4. Maintain PM profile centrally and choose appropriate PMs when placing candidates
5. Celebrate the PMs and their contributions to your success

In Conclusion

Turner and Müller are not saying that all PMs will fail unless they have the right leadership style and EI competencies. What they are saying is that performance will be impaired on specific project types if the PM doesn’t have the appropriate leadership style and competencies. As a PM’s career develops, he/she must look to enhance his or her leadership style. If the PM specializes in one type of project, it makes sense to acquire the appropriate leadership style and EI competencies. As the PM progresses from low to high complexity projects, he/she will have to enhance his or her leadership competencies, especially developing emotional dimensions. 

1. Based on the Research Paper By: 
J. Rodney Turner, PhD. and Ralf Müller, DBA, 2006, Choosing Appropriate Project Managers, Matching their Leadership Style to the Type of Project. 
Published and Available for Purchase on www.pmi.org

Written in collaboration between Jim Carlson and a Consultant Program Principle.


 



If Agile is a Silver Bullet, We Are Hunting With Crossbows

The dictionary defines a “Silver Bullet” as a bullet made of silver, used in fiction as a supposedly magical method of killing werewolves. The modernized version describes it as a simple and seemingly magical solution to a complicated problem. Executives use “Silver Bullets” to protect themselves from downsizing, outsourcing, and early retirement.

Some people are plugging Agile as the present day Silver Bullet.

In response, I simply say – HALT!

Agile is an adjective and not a noun. Agile provides the ability to adapt quickly to a changing environment without material impact to time and the effort to the team. Agile is about applying common sense principles; reducing inefficiencies, increasing quality, and continuously looking for ways to improve throughput. Agile is a radical counter-cultural change in the process – a paradigm shift.

Pure agile contains all the above, but to determine if Agile is genuinely the magical solution to our complicated problems, we need to debunk a few common myths first.

Common Myths about Agile:

1.    Agile is a project management technique – false

2.    Agile is Scrum – false

3.    Agile is a one-size-fits-all solution – false

4.    Agile is going to solve all of our complicated problems – (sadly) false

1. Agile is not a project management technique

Agile is not a project management methodology as some may advocate. Project management methodologies or techniques drive a plan using repeatable disciplinary processes. Conversely, Agile is about interdisciplinary autonomous teams aligning to a corporation’s objectives and trying different approaches and outcomes to advance innovation. Agile is flexible and principle-based, rather than prescriptive.

2. Agile is not Scrum

Scrum is one of many methods of software development. Agile is much bigger than Scrum and not limited to software development only. Agile principles are scalable to most industries and functions, including operations, marketing, R&D, and Legal. Scum might be used to get Agile out of the gate, but it is not substitutable. It is saying C++ and coding are interchangeable.

3. Agile is not a one-fits-all solution

Organizations are all different and unique. Each company has their own unique culture, inadequacies, working styles, and preferences. Trying to create a one-fits-all “Agile” solution, is not necessarily wrong, but it takes away from the real essence of Agile. Agile is about reducing inefficiencies, increasing quality, and continually looking for ways to improve throughput. It is not about speeding up code delivery to the point where quality capitulates.

4. Agile is not going to solve all our complicated problems

Agile is not a magic formula that will fix all our complicated issues, it has, however, common sense principles that will fix some of our problems. You might be following all the Agile principles religiously, but it is one thing to want to do the right thing, it is altogether another thing to “actually” do it. There will always be procrastinators, office politics, and career aspirations that get in the way of pure agile. What makes agile transformation so tricky is that it goes against our natural behaviors - to control and limit change and uncertainty. At the end of the day, and to be truly successful, our way of thinking (our culture) needs to change before Agile fixes problems.

In summary

Agile is not a silver bullet!

Agile is about applying common sense principles; reducing inefficiencies, increasing quality, and continuously looking for ways to improve throughput. Start slowly, educate the organization, use Agile to go Agile, and most importantly - allow room for failure and constant refinement. Nevertheless, I hope you find your transition to Agile both stimulating and gratifying.

Written in collaboration between Jim Carlson and a Consultant Program Principle.



40% Job Offer Acceptance Rate on Millennials

I have witnessed many changes working in the World’s most culturally integrated and growing City over 30 years in Technology recruitment. The first in a series of topics I will be sharing in a series of posts, on a recent phenomenon that is mind boggling –  I was recently in a meeting with a VP and they are at a 40% close rate on Millennial candidates! Are you kidding me! What is happening to our corporations, mid-sized and start-up companies in the recruitment cycle? Without doing a thing, the close rate should be 75%. In the Agency world we look hard at individual performance if a Recruiter falls below 85% on close rate.

So it has to be the Millennial candidate - right? ... Wrong, our stats show no difference in closing on millennials vs baby boomers.

I was taught by an industry veteran that people look very hard at 6 items even before they consider salary; over time, nothing has changed.  If you understand the needs of a prospect and create a narrative over the full recruitment life cycle, then the offer closes if salary is market reasonable. After 17 years of statistic accumulation, we see a close rate over 90% as being acceptable.  

The General Manager in Sports, Director in Entertainment productions and VP level in business are responsible for the composition of their teams. As we see in current affairs; the bright light in Sports is on capable Managers recruiting and retaining key talent to win; and dark side – the Entertainment industry’s decision makers (Directors and Producers taking advantage of their status), are heavily involved in the process of selection and offer. This leads to simple questions – “Are you involved in every selection in your team?” and “Have you developed a recruit and retain process that works for you?” Not what your company does, not what HR recommends, not what someone in company down the street does, but what works for you?

The Millennial needs are no different than other demographic categorizations. They want interesting and challenging work that makes sense to them in their career progression. Working in an Industry for a company that is either a leader or an up and comer. That the people & managers, technology and location of the suitor meet their individual needs. This is standard closing material. However, I very rarely see this over the vast number of clients with who we have worked with over the decades. 

My recommendation is to use what we do in the Agency world. Constant feedback with the candidate. This is exceptionally difficult to do if you are not using some sort of 3rd party service. Justification of using in-house recruiters versus Agency costs has been around forever. It`s not going away. Therefore how does one get a 3rd party involved? The answer is to both bite the bullet and select your Agency that you have a relationship with (not a company that Purchasing or HR or Administration has chosen) and get on with it, or bring in an outside Consultant versed in closing. The objective is to receive and give feedback through each step and delay in the process. Your favourite sports team didn`t just land the key free agent by putting an offer on the table. They worked the deal from the time they identified the opening to the time when actual ink went on the contract. You must follow the same steps. 

Otherwise 40% is the reality.

In conclusion, the 40% Millennial close doesn’t have to be your reality. If your objective is to build, lead and retain the talent that works for you, then you have to be involved. Develop a process. Like everything else, ask an expert. Make sure you know the 6 non salary related reasons for change (needs). Get an independent 3rd party involved to assist with the feedback. Be bold, sell the opportunity and always be closing.