“What Salary Are You Looking For?”– Your Answer Can Be Very Costly!

Posted November 7, 2011 by duncanmassey
Categories: Career Advice

“What Salary Are You Looking For?” the interviewer asks.

“$80 to 85 thousand”, you reply. The offer comes in at $80 thousand, after-all, you told them that number was OK. Why pay you $85 thousand? Perhaps their range on the position would have allowed them to go to $90 thousand in their offer to you, but you’ll never know.

“80 to 85 thousand”, you reply. No offer is made. You didn’t know that the salary range is only up to $70 thousand for this position. You probably would’ve accepted $70 thousand because you really liked, and needed, the job, but you were trying to not undercut your salary by naming too low a number. They chose not to offer you the lower number as they felt you might be insulted or disgruntled in the future because you accepted less money than you were really looking for.

“$80 to 85 thousand”, you reply. No offer is made. This is a higher level position and since you have some good experience, they assumed you were making at least $100 thousand, as were some of the other candidates they were looking at. Because you were 20% less in your expectations than other candidates, they presume that your lack of expectations or past earnings power might be an indicator of less potential than they may have thought. They hire the higher salary person, figuring that their expectations more closely match the demands of the position.

You’re getting the idea – naming expected salary numbers is a sure-fire way to “shoot yourself in the foot” and can possibly cost you thousands or a job offer. Depending on the personality of the hiring authority, you might be forced into giving them a monetary answer – but if you can avoid it by pursuing more strategic answers to the question, do so!

“The most important thing to me is finding the right company to work for, long-term. If you feel I’m the right person for this position, which I hope that you do, then I would want you to offer a salary that you feel is fair for the market and what I’m bringing into your company?” With this response, you challenge the employer to evaluate your value and make you a fair offer. If you name the first number – you’re most likely locked-in. If they name the first number, you might be able to negotiate it to the range you need to be in. If you can’t negotiate it higher, odds are that you were out of the range from the start.

“I am very open to considering an offer that you feel is competitive to the market and fair for my skills”. Similar to the previous answer, just abbreviated.

You can also answer their question with a question. “Is there a range for the position that you have in mind” or “Given the skills that I’m bringing into your company, what salary do you see as being a potential?” This again puts them in the position of showing their cards first. You can reply to their answer with an indication that you’d certainly consider an offer, if made, while still not committing to the exact numbers. If they state a range and it’s a very acceptable range for you, then you could answer that and offer at the higher end of the range would certainly be given serious consideration. If they state numbers that are clearly under your acceptable range, you could reply that you would appreciate their offer, but your expectation ultimately might be above that range.
No matter what you answer, it is always possible that the interviewer will say, “That’s all well and good, but I really need to know a salary that you would accept for the position”. In this case, I would recommend that you side-step again and ask if you can follow-up with them the next day with an answer to that. Ask them if they can give you benefit information and any other incentives to weigh into coming up with an appropriate salary proposal. If they are serious about wanting to offer you the position, then they will gladly give you the requested information and understand that it is better for you to answer the question after having had an opportunity to reflect.
When you call them the next day, be prepared to tell them what you like about the position, what you feel like you’re bringing to the position and name one number that you feel is fair and that you will be happy with. Let them know that if they make you that offer, then you’re prepared to accept the position. Don’t undersell yourself and don’t push for out of a competitive range, but propose what would be on the higher end of a your range.
If you have other ideas of how to respond to the salary expectations question, please add your ideas as COMMENTS to this blog. I’m also glad to answer any questions about this subject that you add as COMMENTS too. Good luck in your next interview and in getting the salary offer you’re looking for!

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2nd & 3rd Interviews – Nail It! Don’t Blow It!

Posted May 12, 2010 by duncanmassey
Categories: Career Advice, Consulting, Interview Advice, IT Industry, Job Hunting, Recruiters & Staffing Industry

Tags: , , , , , , ,

You have been on a 1st Interview, maybe even a 2nd interview.  The hiring manager has told you that they are very interested in hiring you – you’re their first choice.   But, before they can extend an offer, they just need you to meet with the top boss – a “blessing interview”.   You’re assured that you’re already going to be hired and that it’s just a routine introduction that nobody has any problems with.    The decision to hire you has already been made.  

Don’t believe it!  Nobody is brought back in for another interview if they have the job 100%.  And no one is put into the interview process if they don’t have some influence on the final decision to hire.  Rather than “blessing interview” it should be called a “veto interview”.  Nobody’s getting hired that doesn’t really connect with the boss on that last meeting.  

In my 21 years in the recruiting industry, I have witnessed quite a few finalists lose the job because they didn’t prepare and take the last interview seriously enough.  No matter how much you may have impressed 10 other people in previous trips to the company, the last meeting with the anyone at the company may well be the most important of all the meetings.  

The best rule of thumb is, TREAT ALL 2ND INTERIVEWS OR SUBSEQUENT JUST LIKE A FIRST INTERVIEW.   No matter what you are told by the hiring manager, a recruiter, or your friend at the company, don’t let the fact that “you’ve practically hired”, go to your head and have you let your guard down.   Assume there are always at least three equal finalists or that you’re maybe even the underdog.  Prepare for that last meeting, further research the company, prepare interview questions, review your strengths, reasons for change and goals, be ready for whatever they might throw at you.  (see previous blogs for ideas on these subjects).  

It’s also not the time to let your appearance slide.  Dress sharp, shine your shoes, get your hair trimmed or styled if it needs it.   If anything, you need to look more “together” than you did on previous meetings.  

Be ready to tell that individual why you want the job, why you’re excited about the company, how you feel like you can contribute to the organization, and how the opportunity fits into your career progression.   

Also, be sure not to leave the meeting without expressing your appreciation for them taking the time ot meet with you and that you sincerely hope that you’ll be able to together.    And when you get home, get  a thank-you letter or thank-you card in the mail (again see previous blogs on thank-you letters).   Maybe you’re expecting an offer before the thank-you letter would get there.   Well it’s certainly no big deal if they get the thanks and you’re already going to work there.   And it could absolutely be the slight nudge needed to get you the offer if the final decision maker is at all on the fence about the offer.  

Please share your ideas or experiences on “blessing interviews” as comments to this blog.

Age In The Job Market – It’s All In Your Mind

Posted March 12, 2010 by duncanmassey
Categories: Career Advice, Consulting, Interview Advice, IT Industry, Job Hunting, Recruiters & Staffing Industry

Tags: , , , , ,

There’s your physical age and you CAN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT!  Right?  Technically, yes,  when you start networking for a job, sending your resume, and interviewing – you can’t change what age you are.   You can, however, change people’s perceptions about your age or make age a non-factor based on your attitude and how you present yourself.

Saying that you can’t do anything about your physical age isn’t entirely true.  You will feel younger, appear younger and act younger as you enter the job market if you’ve done everything in your lifestyle to preserve your youth or make the best of your biological  age.    A healthy diet and exercise will have a positive impact on the appearance of your body and face.  You will feel healthier and that means you will feel younger and more energetic.  This will come across in your interviews and networking and cause people to not notice or care about your age.

Equally incumbent on the older person in the job market to keep their appearance young and feeling young is to try to either avoid stress or find those healthy activities or strategies that help you to control stress.   If you want to appear young – exercise to reduce stress, not smoke, drink, or take prescription medications that you can avoid.   Job hunting, for many people, is stressful enough – especially if you’re currently facing unemployment.  If you don’t want that stress to play out in making you look old and tired, then combat that stress by being extremely active with family, active in your job hunt, and active with your health.  Seek extra support if you need it  – there are many groups like Businesspersons Between Jobs (BBJ) or groups at your local church that help its’ members maintain balance while looking for a job.

The older person in the job market also must  keep their mind exercised.  How sharp you are in an interview or networking conversation will depend a lot on what you’ve done to keep your mind young.  Physical health certainly has its’  impact on the capabilities of the mind, as does mental health.  How sharp you are in an interview or networking conversation will depend a lot on what you’ve done to keep your mind young.    Read instead of watching TV, stay up on current events, volunteer at your local school – do things that keep you thinking. 

Keep your mind up with the times!  Nothing will “show your age” as much as not keeping current with the trends of your industry.  If you’re a software engineer and haven’t learned the programming languages being used today, then you’ll be seen as an “old programmer”.  If you keep yourself moving with the times, take classes, get certified in demand technologies,  read trade publications, join internet discussion groups, join your local user group, and polish your skills at home, then you will help keep your skills up-to-date, cause you to feel current and confident, and thus validate your worth to those considering you for a position.

Information Technology professionals can not only keep up with most up-to-date technologies to keep their skills and mind young – but they should also learn to leverage the latest technologies to promote their capabilities for networking and to legitimize their reputation in their market specialty or industry.   Blog, tweet, network on LinkedIn, collaborate on open systems technology,  join on-line discussion forums and groups – legitimize your skills in the eyes of peers and potential employers but participating in the market, showing expertise, leaving an on-line or public “footprint”.  Keeping up with the times in this way will make you feel like your with the times, not like it’s passed you by and those most likely to hire you will be able to see evidence of how involved you are. 

Repeatedly when I have listened to someone that feels like the job market has been discriminating against them for their age, I can review their job history and their skills and I will see someone that gave up on moving forward a decade or more ago and has taken no initiative to be current.  Their skills are old, they’ve given up, it’s no wonder that employers aren’t enthused to hire them.   I’m even surprised sometimes when if I find out their real age, that I’ve often guessed that they were actually older than they really were.  Staying still just lets the years’ pile on. 

 I have also met individuals who are biologically old – that act and feel young.  They fit in with their peers of all ages and are confident in themselves as well as their skills.  When they are interviewed  – age isn’t an issue.   Even if your resume “gives away” your age – you’ll still get interviews if you’ve been using the technologies that companies are looking for.  I’m not saying their isn’t age bias – but it’s up to you to make it their loss to not consider you and to prove any stereotypes they might have as wrong.  Most often – they’ll look right through the issue altogether. 

Great luck with your job hunt and please add your suggestions or comments on this issue as a comment to this blog.

Two Words That Get Job Offers – “Positive Attitude”

Posted March 5, 2010 by duncanmassey
Categories: Career Advice, Consulting, Interview Advice, IT Industry, Job Hunting, Phone Interview, Recruiters & Staffing Industry

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Your positive attitude is more important in a job interview than your education, your experience, your salary requirements or any other component that makes up the package of you, as the job seeker.   And my experience is that when highly qualified and skilled individuals find it hard to get a new position, it’s because they are projecting a negative attitude. 

WRONG – “How long would I have to wait to be promoted into a manager position with your company?”

RIGHT – “I’m looking for a company where, as I prove myself capable, I can take on increasing responsibility and, if the opportunity exists and I’ve earned it,  I can move towards a leadership role.”

“Wrong” is asking what the company can do for him, “Right” is telling the company that you expect to earn responsibility and that promotion will be something that you earn, not an entitlement. 

WRONG – “My manager and I really have different viewpoints on how to run the department and I’m really interested in finding a position with a company that let me have more input in the decisions.”

RIGHT – “As I would successfully learn the business and how the organization operates, I’d hope to be able to identify opportunities to improve processes or save the company money and bring those ideas to you.”

“Wrong” is telling us that his opinion isn’t very respected where he is currently and that he wants a manager that will listen to him and accept his ideas.  Whether his fault or not, it certainly opens him to being labeled as a “know it all”.   “Right” makes it clear that he intends to bring his ideas to the manager once he really understands what is going on.  He doesn’t elude at all to not being listened to in his current environment. 

WRONG – “What benefits would I receive in this position?”    “Is parking provided?”  “How large an office or cubicle would I have?” 

RIGHT – “I appreciate that you’re offering to answer my questions about benefits, but right now my focus is on making sure to find the right company to which I can contribute and grow professionally.   If we both feel like this is a good match, I’m sure that we can make the overall compensation package work.”

“Wrong” wants to know what’s in it for her.  “Right” is looking for the best fit for her and for the company and feels like incidentals of specific benefit information or comfort issues of parking and whether her cubicle has a window are not a priority.  If there are any important issues she needs to evaluate about these type of issues, then she’ll ask AFTER she has a job offer. 

WRONG – “My current company is not growing and my boss is never going anywhere so there is not way for me to move up in the organization.”

RIGHT – “I’m looking for a company that is growing and expanding so that more opportunities exist for career progression”.

“Wrong” Is complaining about the stagnant environment that he’s coming from.  “Right” is making the same implication, but in a more positive way as she is stating what she is looking for in a new environment, not what Is lacking in her current environment.  Being positive is often just a matter of looking towards a better future rather than the past. 

Beyond phraseology and looking forward, not back, a lot of being positive is also going to come from your eyes, posture, hands and expressions.  Positive people LOOK positive.  They make eye contact, they smile, they lean forward slightly when making a point, they use their hands for some expression and keep them away from their face. 

Positive people listen very intently to what the interviewer is saying and provide positive feedback throughout.  Making sure to not be fake or use false flattery, a polished positive person will respond in a way that projects their enthusiasm and interest.  Follow-up questions that probe deeper into what the interviewer saying shows your listening and positive as well as draws on what the interviewer is saying to present something further about yourself. 

“I like that you are promoting a team environment, I work very well with others.”

“That’s very interesting that your company is acquisition oriented as I’m certainly looking for an organization that is growing and will have opportunities for career progression.”

Even the questions that you ask can reflect a more positive tone:

WRONG – “What didn’t you like about the person that you let go from this position?”

RIGHT – “What are the most important attributes for the person you want to hire to possess?”

WRONG – “What are the downsides to working for your department?”

RIGHT – “If you could improve one thing in your department in the next year, what would it be?”

WRONG – “Do you have much turnover in this company?”

RIGHT – “What do you think are the reasons that employees like working for your company?”

Practice being positive for your interviews.  It will help get you the best jobs at the best companies.  And if you find it works there, try it in your relationships and life outside of work.  Being positive improves life at work and life in general. 

Please add your ideas, questions and suggestions on this topic as comments to this blog.

No Time to Ramble – Sticking to the Point in Interviews

Posted February 26, 2010 by duncanmassey
Categories: Career Advice, Consulting, Interview Advice, IT Industry, Job Hunting, Phone Interview

Tags: , , , , , , ,
  1. Answer
  2. Support
  3. STOP!
  4. Pause
  5. Ask a question back or field another question
  6. Return to Step 1

It’s a simple process, but one that far too many people find difficult in an interview.  Knowing how to properly respond to an interview question in a succinct manner and then quit talking is one of the most important and most often overlooked interviewing skills.  I have conducted hundreds of interviews where the person I’m interviewing doesn’t answer my questions, rambles off on to other tangents, doesn’t back up their point, and basically talks and talks but doesn’t say anything that is going to help them get the job.

Almost all questions can be responded to with a “Yes”, “No”, or something in between like “sometimes”, “usually” and “seldom”.   Whether the answer to the questions is positive or negative – don’t dance around it!  Answer the question directly, honestly and up-front. 

“No, I haven’t had any experience in programming with C#, however, I have had 3 years experience with VB.NET and am confident that with some extra effort studying the syntax differences, that I can keep the learning curve short and get up to speed on C#.”

Answered the questions directly – supported the answer – and stopped!  The technique of answering the question up front first and then backing it up with your explanation is especially important when the answer is negative.  As in the example above, you won’t be accused of “dancing around the answer” or avoiding an honest response.   “No, I don’t have any experience with that, but….”, is a much better way to answer than to “hem and haw” for two minutes and leaving them guessing as to whether you really answered the question or not. 

In most circumstances, after you have directly answered the questions, your explanation or support of your response should comprise somewhere between one and three sentences, similar to a well constructed paragraph that you learned to write in Middle School. 

“Yes, I have had some experience in leading projects.  In the last two projects that I was on, at GE and Citigroup, I functioned as the team leader.  At GE, I had three developers on the project and assigned their work, helped them with issues and reviewed their code.  At Citigroup I had those same responsibilities, and was also responsible for doing the first round interviews and resume screening when we were staffing the project.”

I’m sure that I could go on and on describing what I did as a leader and there’s probably some interesting, to me, side stories too – but the best strategy is to directly answer, support the answer, and stop.   If they want more information about your leadership skills, they can ask for more information and you can provide additional detail on what they ask for.  In this way they get the information they want, not a lot of extraneous detail that they may or may not have been looking for.

If the questions seems really big and you are sure that a lot more detail is warranted, try to break it down and keep yourself on track by following the above formula and then, after your pause, ask for feedback. 

They say, “Tell me about your career”.

Don’t take license to write them a book – save it for your memoirs.  Try this:

“I graduated from the University of Chicago with a Computer Science degree and spent the first five years of my career on a Java development team at Sears.  I resigned from Sears to work for a consulting company and branched into WebSphere Portal development and received some training and experience in portal architecture and design.  I was recruited by Deloitte and have now been there three years in management consulting as part of the Integration Services Team.”

Pause….   “Would you like more detail about any of my experience in particular”. 

To keep from rambling on and on about my career, I provide a focused view of the highlights and check for feedback as to what the interviewer wants to know more about”. 

If your tendency isn’t to ramble too long, but instead no t provide enough information and the interviewer has to  “drag information out of you”, then these same techniques apply to you.  Force yourself to answer the questions directly and backup your answers.   Almost every answer deserves one to three sentences support and if it’s not natural for you to provide explanations, then you need to practice doing so before you interview. 

Good luck on your interview and please add your questions or suggestions as comments to this blog.

Win Your Case – Get the Job! Validating Your Skills In An Interview

Posted February 16, 2010 by duncanmassey
Categories: Career Advice, Interview Advice, IT Industry, Job Hunting

Tags: , , , , , ,

“I have very strong leadership skills.”

“I am confident in my technical skills.”

“I finish my projects on time and under budget”

All great claims and nice to assert in an interview, but whether the person interviewing you believes any of it, is questionable.  One of the biggest mistakes that interviewers make is not providing any support to their claims.  If you were having to prove your capabilities in court, you’d have evidence  to back up your claims or you’d never win your case. 

Evidence in the case of hiring you for a job comes in the form of examples, description of particular project situations, anecdotal evidence, third-party testimony, citing of your performance review, and quantitative citation.  When you make a claim in an interview and then back it up with supporting evidence – the hiring authority is much more likely to remember you and connect the attribute or experience in question to you as they progress in the decision making process.  

“Do you have leadership experience?”

“Yes, I have led up to 5 people on 2 different projects over a 3 year period at both ABC Inc. and ZYX Corporation.  My leadership experience includes assigning day-to-day tasks, mentoring, overseeing work progress, and participating in the hiring and review process.”

Having backed up my claim to have leadership skills with specific information on what kind of skills I have, where I used them, and in quantifying how many people for how long, I am providing evidence that supports my claim that gives me credibility in the viewpoint of the interviewer.

“How technical are you?”

“I am quite confident in my technical skills, in fact in my last review at ABC Inc., my manager rated my technical skills as “Excellent” and reported that I was one of the strongest in the department in terms of technical capabilities.   My strongest technical skills are in Java, with almost 10 years of experience, and Oracle database programming, with over 6 years experience”.

You can’t take your written review into the interview or your boss to speak for you on an interview (might be a little awkward), but you can cite what your boss has said or reported about you. 

“How are you at meeting project deadlines?”

“I take responsibility for my project deadlines.  For example, at my current employer I was on a project to release new functionality for a Business Intelligence Dashboard that the CFO of the company wanted in place before they had to do the year-ends.   some of the requirements weren’t finalized until five days before the deadline but I worked clear through the weekend and found some other code blocks that we could use to reduce development time, thus making the deadline.  My manager pointed out the extra effort that was put in to the CFO and I he came and thanked me personally.”

Don’t just throw it out there  – make it real!  Almost every question asked in an interview needs a direct answer with back up explanation – the evidence.  Keep it the point, don’t get off on tangents, but tell the story, share the facts, explain the reasons that what you’re saying is true.  If you believe it and support it – they’ll believe too AND HIRE YOU!

If you have any questions or suggestions on this topic, please feel free to add a comment to this blog post.

Reality Show – Recruiters Work for … Themselves

Posted January 22, 2010 by duncanmassey
Categories: Career Advice, Consulting, IT Industry, Job Hunting, Recruiters & Staffing Industry

Tags: , , , , , ,

Pick your Reality Show: 

  1. “Recruiters I talk to are not positive and don’t call me back with any jobs.  They seem too busy to talk with me.  They don’t follow-up.  I’ll never find a job working through them.”
  2. “Recruiters won’t leave me alone!  I always am getting messages and e-mails from recruiters.  Whether I’m looking for another job or not, I can always count on be approached for this opportunity or that.” 

Why these two different realities?  Did # 2 just find the golden ticket?

 The reality is that both are true – depending on what your skills and capabilities are.  Recruiters, whether they are staffing for direct-hire positions, contracting / consulting positions, or a combination of the two, contract-to-hire, are paid for and driven by the demands of their clients.   Of course some will find their experience somewhere in-between. 

 Facts are that:  Clients pay the fees… clients pay the bill rates…  recruiters cost the clients money…  clients  aren’t going to pay extra money to find skills they can easily find themselves, are common, or are outdated.  The reality is, recruiters need to find the most in-demand skills held by the professionals whom are in the shortest supply to be able to justify the value of their services to their client. 

 On top of that, most recruiters are only paid if they actually get someone hired, so they have to work a lot of different positions at a number of different clients to set up as many good matches as they can with the outcome of filling some of those jobs with some of those candidates.  There is absolutely no way they will get everyone placed that they work with or fill every job they work on.  It’s unrealistic to expect one recruiter to find a job in the short run, unless your skills are very high demand and the recruiter has a solid book of related business ready-to-go. 

 The reality is that even the best recruiters realistically have to spend their time with people they are going to have the best chance of placing. 

 The best recruiters are still sensitive to the entire market in which they serve and frequently can be a helpful resource, even for those they can’t place.  The best recruiters are conscientious of their public image and reputation and will provide help to the degree it’s practical, but just like any other professional – their business depends on working smart and there’s only so much they can be expected to do for someone that they are highly unlikely to place.   Remember, they aren’t hired to find you a job (those are called employment agencies) they are hired by companies to find talent.  

 If you’re looking to move up in any field, have employment security, and have the “headhunters” and the opportunities looking for you – then do everything you can to keep your skills up to where they will be the most in-demand.  If you’re in the technology field – don’t make the mistake of sticking with outdated  technology because you’re comfortable – if you get laid off, you’ll find job hunting hard.  Choose opportunities and learning situations that will keep you ahead of the field – you can be 25 or 55 and still be working with new technologies.

 If you have any suggestions or comments to add to this topic, please add the comments below.

4 Pieces of the Interview Puzzle That Must Fit Together

Posted December 31, 2009 by duncanmassey
Categories: Career Advice, Interview Advice, IT Industry, Job Hunting

Tags: , , , , ,

There are four interview questions that you expect to be asked and that you need to be well prepared for:

1) If you’re working: “Why are you thinking of leaving your current employer?” (Reasons for Change)
Or
If you’re not working: “Why did you leave your last employer?”

2) What are you looking for in a new opportunity?

3) Why are you interested in this opportunity?

4) What are your career goals?

The answers that you construct to these questions should be like four pieces to an easy to construct childhood puzzle – put them together and the employer will have the whole picture of what drives you, why you’re there, what you’re looking for, and where you want to go. The answers to these questions should lead logically from one to the other to the other. The puzzle pieces should fit together – it should make sense. Why you are looking for a new opportunity should fit in with your career goals and why you are interested their opportunity and what type of position you’re looking for. Your career goals should be consistent with your reasons for change, what you’re looking for in a position and why you’re talking to the employer about this opportunity.

If you are fully prepared for all of the above questions and are sure that they are consistent with each other, before going into the interview, then you are going to impress the employer that you know what you’re looking for and why you’re there. It’s very frustrating to an interviewer to be taking their time to meet with someone who isn’t sure why they’re there or want they want. If you can’t make all of these things fit together prior to the interview – then maybe it’s not the right position or you don’t have the right reasons to consider changing jobs.

Here’s an example:

Interviewer: What are your career objectives?

Interviewee: I’m primarily interested in finding an environment that has more opportunity for learning and greater ability to take on new responsibilities. That is primarily what is lacking in my current environment, the company doesn’t believe much in training or mentoring programs and there is a tendency to be pigeon-hold into a narrow job function without getting to expand. When hearing about the opportunity with your organization, there seemed to be a real emphasis on the learning opportunity, cross training, and growth in the position.

This interviewee has told the employer why they are there, why they are interested in their organizations positions, what’s lacking at their current organization (without setting a negative tone), all within the context of what their career goals are. SCORE!

Keep the reasons for change positive, though sometimes it can’t be avoided to have to insinuate what is lacking at your current employer to have it make sense why you are looking. Just try to put it in as positive a tone as possible and don’t act bitter or angry about it. If you’re current employer reprimands employees for speaking to others during the workday if you’re not in a direct meeting (I know a company that does this), then you could say that you’re interested in leaving your current employer to find an organization that has a stronger commitment to building a team-oriented environment and a positive work atmosphere.

Make sure to prepare for every interview. Write down the answers to the above questions on a sheet of paper. Work through your mind if they are consistent with each other and if it makes sense for this interview opportunity. Now set the paper aside and practice, out load and possibly in front of a mirror, answering any of the above questions by covering ALL the puzzle pieces in a flowing manner. Ask someone else to listen and role play with you. See if it all makes sense to them. Being ready for these questions will be more likely to set the right tone for getting you a job offer than other preparation that you might do. And equally importantly, this exercise will help you in making sure that you take the right position that fits you and objectives best.

Good luck in your interview and please feel free to ask questions or add your ideas as a COMMENT to this blog.

Keep Job Hunting During the Holidays

Posted December 9, 2009 by duncanmassey
Categories: Career Advice, Consulting, Interview Advice, IT Industry, Job Hunting

Tags: , , ,

It is a common assumption that companies aren’t hiring over the winter holidays and many job hunters slow down their networking and searching activities during this time of year with the intent of looking again in January when things pick up. I guess that’s OK if you don’t really need a job. It’s the same as not showing up to play in the football game – certainly don’t expect to be in the end zone.

Several things should be considered about job hunting in December.

1) Some companies are hiring now because they want someone on -board and ready -to-go on the first Monday in January.
2) Because so many job seekers are busy with other distractions like shopping and holiday parties, there are fewer competitors on the market, increasing your likelihood of an interview and a job offer.
3) If a company is actively looking this time of year, the manager is generally very serious about hiring and is likely to make decisions more quickly.
4) Some managers have budget s that open up a new space on their team for the New Year and they want to get the help as soon as possible, or they have budget or a requisition that will expire at the first of the year and needs to be used.
5) If you need to put your career on a better track, then sitting out the holidays isn’t something your career can afford.
6) Even if there are more openings in January, there will also be a LOT more people looking. In the IT world especially, it’s common for consultants to have been rolled off at year end and the market is generally heavier on available talent than available requirements.

So what is the best holiday hunting strategy? Work harder, operate with a great sense of urgency, chase down more leads, answer more postings, upgrade your postings on job boards and social network sites, such as LinkedIn, and generally do more of what you normally do to job hunt – not less.

Do not let yourself even think that the manager might not want to interview because it’s January 19th and Christmas is coming up – let them figure the schedule. People interview and get job offers on December 24th and December 26th – companies usually close for December 25th and January 1, and they may well be hiring on other days.

Happy holiday job hunting! Please feel free to post questions or comments to this blog.

Job Boards for IT Professionals – Worth it or Worthless?

Posted November 10, 2009 by duncanmassey
Categories: Career Advice, Consulting, Interview Advice, IT Industry, Job Hunting, Resume Writing

Tags: , , , , ,

Monster.com, Dice.com, ComputerJobs.com, HotJobs.com, and many other job boards promise and promote their abilities to hook technical professionals up with that ideal job. Do they? Well yes, sometimes. Sometimes you get a job through a recruiter or consulting company, sometimes a friend hooks you up, a few people are even finding jobs now through social networking (LinkedIn, Facebook etc…), but job boards remain the quickest click to many technical positions and is very likely to generate phone calls your direction if you post your resume and contact information.

In fact, odds are best that a job board posted resume will draw the attention of a recruiter more so than an end employer. In the case of Dice.com, which is very popular with the consulting marketplace, a posted resume there is very likely to draw response from contracting firm recruiters.

How many jobs you find on the job boards and how many phone calls you receive will be in direct proportion to the demand for your skills in the marketplace. If you’ve let your skills stagnant on older technology that the marketplace has left behind, then job boards aren’t going to present a panacea, however if you have skills that are marketable, then the results can be effective.

Be very cautious about posting your resume on-line if you are currently employed. Your employer may do searches for employees of the company to see who’s looking – you might find yourself on the layoff short list as a result. On most boards you can post your resume as “confidential”, but be careful to remove as much unique information as possible that might identify you. This includes current and past employers, schools attended, and particular project descriptions. It probably makes the most sense to create a skills overview to use in place of your resume for these purposes. If you post as “confidential” and then leave your resume with your name, current employer and other identifiable details, then you might as well not bother with it being “confidential”. Resumes posted as “Confidential”, however, will not draw the same number of responses as those with names and contact information. If your skills are definitely marketable and the risk of your employer finding out you’re on the market isn’t going to put your livelihood in jeopardy, then it may be worthwhile to take the risk of a “named” posting.

Whether posting publically or confidentially, fill out summary information as thoroughly as possible. Much of the screening done by employers is based on searches in which they examine summary pages of dozens or even hundreds of candidates. The more complete the information that is entered on your qualifications and particular skill levels, desired position(s), desired locations, earnings requirements, etc… the more likely it is that your information will be noticed by someone with a matching position. Also, while not underselling your skills, make sure they are not overstated as well. Particularly in technical positions, if you list a language or tool that you’ve only familiar with, why include it in on your resume to have a potential employer question it and discover you’re really not experienced in using it. If they find one thing not to believe, odds are they won’t believe a lot of the other information either.

If you are actively needing to find other work, then it is probably best to make the investment in a cell phone, so that you don’t miss the call of potential employers or are at least able to retrieve messages and return them during business hours on the same day. In a competitive marketplace, not being available can cost you the job. It isn’t unusual for the client to have surfaced enough candidates that they cut-off looking at new prospects. The sooner you connect, the better potential that you’ll have.
When answering job postings, carefully look them over to ensure that you meet the minimum requirements. It’s OK to stretch a little and apply for positions that you don’t have 100% of the skills for, but you’re wasting your time to submit your resume for positions that you are totally unqualified for. If a company spends hundreds of dollars on a job post, it’s because they want someone that matches their needs better then the guy walking down the street. If necessary, provide additional information with your ad response to explain how your skills match up to the position requirements.

So are job boards worth it or worthless? If you make sure to make a good on-line presentation and have skills that the market is looking for, then job boards can be a real asset. It is important to scrutinize who calls you and what they are presenting to you – as you are on the open market, you have to set the standards and use good sense with whom you share personal information and the types of organizations and people that you get involved with.
Happy job hunting!

If you have any questions or insights on this subject, please add them as COMMENTS on this blog.