Career Coach or Opportunist?

I know I just wrote an article not too long ago titled “Someone wants to charge you money for a job?  Are you Crazy?” about the rise in numbers of career coaches.  I have gotten a lot of positive feedback about that article which has prompted me to make a few more points.  I’m not looking to bash legitimate career coaches since some of them are great at what they do and I’m in the process of looking for some to help write articles for a blog.  I am irritated by those who have decide to jump on the gravy train to take advantage of this market by sucking the life out of those that are in need of some help.

The job market today is a client driven market, unlike the late 90’s which was a candidate driven market; which meant if your candidate was breathing, you got them a job.  We would interview a job candidate in the morning, have them interview  with one of our client’s in the afternoon and by the end of the day we would have an offer.  Today the job market is quite the opposite.  Since it’s been slow, many recruiters stopped recruiting  and are looking for greener pastures and are now calling themselves career coaches.  To me it just doesn’t sit right.  I know that there are people out there that take advantage of every situation they can, but how do they sleep at night?

There are career coaches out there that have been in that line of work for a very long time.  I respect what they do and some are great at guiding you through the process of getting a job.  Some of them can craft a great resume and make it flow in a way that will make a difference in getting your foot in the door.  They can help with dress attire, interviewing techniques and perhaps help you gain some confidence.  Some of them do it because they enjoy and have a passion for helping others and I commend them for that.   The problem lies with the “NEW” career coach.  The opportunist who went from being a third party recruiter to HR in the last two years then onto part time used car salesman.  These guys and gals are the ones that are trying to take advantage of the current situation that people are facing with our growing unemployment.  People, you need to wake up and look into the backgrounds of these so called experts before you spend one red cent, other wise, Barnum was right in saying that “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

Here is some FREE sound advice for those who can’t really afford to spend about six thousand dollars for a six month subscription for a career coach.  Join a gym for about six hundred dollars a year that would be my suggestion and a much better deal.  I’m just saying a little exercise goes a long way.  Losing some weight will not only make you look younger but by releasing some endorphins you’ll even feel better about yourself .   You know there is nothing that makes you feel better than dropping some weight and then hitting the stores for some new clothes.  A brand new tailored suit with all the trimmings will  not only make you look great but will make you feel great too.  Feeling great about yourself is obviously something that I keep harping on because if you are  out of work you need to understand that confidence perhaps is what you may be lacking.  Let’s face it, if you have been interviewing and not getting anywhere spending six grand isn’t going to help, in fact in six months you’ll be depressed about spending the six grand!  In times like these you need some major me time!  For many of you it’s not your fault that you’re not working.   You need to make sure that things are in prospective and exercise can play a major role in your mental well being.  Don’t allow some snake oil salesman to con you out of your hard earned money by convincing you that they have the answer.

What everyone today is really looking for is some good sound advice that is relevant to today’s economic times.  There are so many places you can go to get FREE advice.  LinkedIn is one of those places that you can ask all the questions you want and people will answer you.  Some people seem to be making it a career by answering everything from tuning up your car to filling out your taxes.  Keep in mind though that not all advice is created equal and you need to check out who is giving the advice, but it is FREE.    There are things that perhaps your friend can tell you honestly or you can get some advice from someone at a search firm.  Heck, they’ll even meet with you for free.  They might not be able to place you in a job at this time but they’ll probably help you with some pointers.

When it comes to paying someone money for advice you have a lot to lose.  After all a career coach has no skin in the games since you pay them upfront for their advice.  It’s like pro athletes, once they get paid their numbers seem to go down.  A good example is the New York Yankees left fielder Johnny Damon.  This was his last year on his contract so he is looking to get paid for next year, and man did he ever have a great year. I know some will say “Well I have my reputation on the line!”  My answer to that is RIGHT!  Recruiters have skin in the game because they are investing their time to try to place you with one of their clients so that they can get paid.  If a career coach is so good at what they do then why don’t they just charge you after you have landed a job?  Their answer to that is “Well we need to make sure we get paid.”  The truth of the matter is that they know the more interviews you go on and the more practice you get, the law of large numbers comes into effect.  Which means you will eventually land a job.  Somehow they want you to believe they had everything to do with it.

So my advice would be to practice, practice, practice and in between sweat, sweat, sweat!

Interviewing Top Talent? Pay Attention!

When there’s a job to be filled at your company, keep in mind a few things that are critical to land top talent.  Even in this job market top talent is hard to find.  Yes unemployment is high but for top talent, the “passive” job candidate, he or she for the most part are not looking.  Now I’m not saying that there isn’t top talent out of work in this market because there is, but even the top talent who are unemployed have options.   Don’t be a jerk who thinks you’re “holding the golden ticket” when interviewing someone.  This is a client driven market but don’t exploit this fact.  If you want to attract top, passive candidates, don’t forget that you may need to “sell” your opportunity.

Some basics on what motivates a job candidates and why they are willing to leave their current job:

1)More money

2)Better benefits

3)A better opportunity that offers career growth

4)Less stress/pressure

People stay at their current company because:

1)Paid well

2)They like their co-workers

3)Having job security (which is really a state of mind)

4)Having good benefits

There are some interesting things at work here that are overlooked.  If you understand what motivates someone, perhaps you can leverage your interview to attract talent.  For a passive job candidate to leave the comforts of what he/she already has, you need to start to understand that they are interviewing with strength on their side.  Keep in mind the hardest part of the process of landing top talent is to actually get someone to make a change.  Change is not as easy as you think and placing job candidates for over ten years, I can tell you that one of the hardest things for someone to do is to quit their current job.

The main goal of your interview should be that when a job candidate leaves your interview, they are more excited regardless to whether they’re your top choice or not.  You want them walking away saying “This would be a great place to work!”  Now I know that’s common sense, but my all time favorite saying is “common sense is a rare commodity!”

Some tips that will help:

Make the job candidate feel welcome.

Spend most of the interview listening intently to what the candidate has to say.

Talk up everyone that you work with.

Coming across positive will attract someone to you.

Make sure you do what you say.  If you tell the candidate that you will get back to them than make sure you do so in a timely manner.

Some tips that will not help:

No one needs to hear about the nightmares at your company.  Perhaps a nightmare for you is an opportunity to others.

Nobody needs to hear if you mess up that it’s your ass.  In a job that’s already implied.

Talking bad about people who work for you or who have left will only signal that you will do the same about them.

I can tell you that people hire people that they like.  The same holds true on the other side.  People want to go to work for people they like.  A company is only as good as it’s people.  What are you doing to set that stage?  Really spend some time thinking about your interview process and how you can make it better.  You have one shot at a good first impression.

How to Quit your Job

People are still doing it today if you can believe it. Giving notice because they found perhaps a better opportunity. There is a professional way to give notice and one that everyone should emulate.

Have a typed out letter stating that you are resigning effective today. You can use this format if it will help. Sample resignation letter. Always give two weeks’ notice which is the right thing to do. NEVER have talks about counteroffers and stringing out your employer. If you were interviewing then you have already made the commitment to leave.

Now there is no legal obligation that I am aware of that requires you to give notice, unless you have a contract that spells it out. If this applies to you, then make sure that you do what is right and fulfill your obligations. Make sure if you’re in sales that you understand how commissions are to be paid to you. Always stay classy and above all do what you would want to be done to you.

Don’t feel intimidated during this transition or let your employer make you feel uncomfortable. Don’t be startled if suddenly your boss tells you that you can’t leave because the company will fall apart without you. RIGHT! All of a sudden the guilt trip starts on how valued you are and what can we do to keep you on board. Trust me when I tell you that your boss is just trying to cover his ass while he replaces you. Never feel guilty that you’re leaving on your terms and what would it be like if the shoe was on the other foot?

Leaving in a professional way will always benefit you and with only two weeks to go you don’t want to jeopardize your future references. You might be thinking hallelujah I am out of here and never to come back, but now is not the time to burn a bridge.
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When Submitting your Resume

When I receive a resume from someone, one of the first things I do is to look at the candidates’ job movement.  I want to establish if this candidate has shown stability and increased responsibility through out their career.  The first thing that a hiring manager is going to do when they receive your resume is to try to disqualify it from the pool of candidates.  With the unemployment at an all time high companies are getting inundated with resumes.  Hiring today is not any easier due to high unemployment, in fact it’s even harder.  I wrote an article last year about this titled: Wrong Perception.

When we submit a job candidate’s resume to one of our clients we write about four sentences explaining why this candidate is a good match and answering any objection that we think they will have.  We answer questions like “Why did this person leave a particular position?” and “Why they are currently looking for employment?”  A conversation will pursue and an interview will usually be scheduled.

When submitting a resume on your own, you must have a good cover letter, one that is short and to the point.  War and Peace will only end up in the trash.  If you do have movement on your resume then this would be the time to explain why you left or why you were asked to leave.  Gaps on resumes are like the 800 pound Guerrilla in the room, especially if they were during a good job market.  If you want a shot at an interview, all red flags must be explained.  People that have job gaps due to this economy will not be scrutinized as severely. People who choose to consult during a good job market find it very difficult to get a full time job when the consulting gig is up.   Employers always ask me “Why were they consulting in the best job marker ever?”  If you do get an interview be prepared to discuss these points in detail and DO NOT LIE!   As far as your resume is concerned, keep it relevant to the job and keep your objective short and sweet, now is not the time to bloviate!   I can tell you that sometimes less is more.

Some other things you need to be prepared to explain are the 3 W’s.

Why you are looking?  (More responsibility)

What is or was your salary?  (Separate base and bonus)

When can you interview?  (2 dates with times).  I can do Monday at 2:00 or Tuesday at 9:00 which one is better for you?

Being upfront and hitting these points straight on is the proactive thing to do and I highly recommend it.  Like dates on a resume, not having them is a big red flag that says “Hey I’m hiding something!” No need to hide anything.  People tend to hire people they like and trust!

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Do I take the Offer or Continue to Interview?

“Well maybe I shouldn’t take this offer because after all, it is my first interview.”  If I had a nickel every time someone said that but then again a nickel’s not worth a dime anymore.   Keep in mind your first offer may be your only offer!  No joke, we have seen job candidates not take an offer because they felt a better offer would come along and spent the next year still looking for a job.  You hate to say “I told you so” but!

If you were to get an offer and you’re currently unemployed then you need to take it!  That would be my recommendation today in this market, even if the money is a lot less than your last job.   The new job is not preventing you from continuing your job search.  Plus it’s always better to have a job when you are interviewing.  Also keep in mind that now that you’re not working and making money your currently at zero!  Clients know that the job candidate with no job is at zero.  Candidates tend to forget that fact when they start to negotiate salary.

If a company offers you a job for less money than what you were previously making, they are aware of that fact.  If another offer comes your way then what you need to do is to consider which job is best for your career.  Don’t jump ship for more money unless the job is what is going to continue your career on the right path.    I am not one that believes in taking a counter offer so from my prospective I would not try to get more money to stay.  Talk about killing your career.

That is why a client should never give someone a crappy offer, because the new hire is always going to be looking for a better offer somewhere else.  Common sense, no?  Well you know what they say about common sense!  When we are negotiating we want to make sure that both  parties are happy with the offer.  No company wants to have a new employee who is not happy with their offer and a company never wants to feel that they overpaid for someone.   Just because the economy isn’t great doesn’t mean it’s time to make lousy offers to potential new hires.  I always ask a client “How long do you want to keep them?”

Happy companies have happy employees in any economy!