Top 4 Skills for Finding that New Job – Part 1 of what will hopefully be a multiple part series if I can find the time.

A job search is worse than having a root canal or cavity filled – I was going to use another example but my friends (Martin, Larry, and others…) recommended against it so no shock today for the readership (my wife actually laughed at the one I wanted to go with), sorry…we will keep it rated G today.

So on to The 1st Skill for finding that new job – BREAK THE RULES.

Introduction – I’m a story teller so I have to have an introduction!

You know the sales guy who can sell ice to eskimos?  That’s not you right?!  Right, and I get it.  Even the top sales people are often times semi introverts and when they come “off of the stage” they like to crawl into their cozy sweats and chill.  IT professionals and engineers who are typically introverts now have to become those sales people selling ice to eskimos right?  Well…right…and I know you wish I had said no. Sorry, I can’t do it.

Now, selling ice is only until you find your next job so yes, you can now sigh with relief – and oh, I’ll add a 5th skill at the end of this 4 part series with of course a stretch goal.  That’s what I do…I ask people to stretch beyond their comfort zones.

#1 BREAK THE RULES – Try not to be…actually you cannot be a rules follower.

 

Every day I speak with job seekers who are IT professionals & engineers and the one thing they all have in common is they follow the rules.

When I relocated to Phoenix Arizona I sat with a group of HR professionals at a Paradise Bakery and Café for a morning networking event and one lone HR executive told me “we build systems to keep people away.”

I’m talking about following the rules of old school HR professionals who for decades have built systems, applications, policies and procedures like a medieval castle to keep the masses out!  What?  Human resources people who keep human resources out? Really?  Yes, I am sorry to tell you this.  And I know I am not telling you something you don’t already know. But I am telling you this because it’s important that you don’t allow them to keep you out.

So back to this fella…yep, that is what he said.  So, the idealist that I am (and I was in this “HR” business for 6 years at that point in my career) I almost fell out of my chair and that is when I waged my war…albeit a small war but a war that recruits one professional at a time to help them go over, around, or under that castle wall.

So, let’s take a step back for a minute because I know many if not all of you are thinking some of the following:

“I’ve got to follow the darn rules or they will reject me.”

“I have always followed the rules and I can’t do it any other way.”

“Rules were made to be followed not broken.”

“I can’t do anything other than sit behind my keyboard and fill out online applications because that is what they are telling me to do; and it feels so good to hit submit that way it puts the onus on them.”  But, is that someone else going to pay your credit card statement?  Um, yeah that’s not going to happen.

OK, I’ll give you a little here…please do follow the rules when you are filling out that 5th credit card application now that your job search has extended far longer that it should have because you followed the rules in your job search.   Or when you are filling out that application to join the circus because you will need that job to earn a living after your unemployment runs out.  The only problem is the circus no longer exists. Didn’t you hear the news this week that Barnum & Bailey had their last performance last week in New York.  Sad for all of us but good for those beautiful animals.

I digress and I am sorry…I will give you some light at the end of the tunnel…you can go back to following the rules when you land your next big job but not until then! 

Following rules is absolutely critical when it comes to building space ships and bridges, architecting medical devices and launching weapons systems.  However, following rules has no place in your job search. My heart goes out to the job seeker who follows the rule, sits in front of the laptop for hours on end inputting his or her resume into the proverbial black hole of databases that each and every recruiter across America and around the world sits in front of each day and hates…like getting a root canal or…

So, what is Paradise getting @ here?   I am getting at the following:

  • Talk with people all day long – yes dial that phone to the places you think have openings from the online systems you have been looking at each day. Find out who the hiring manager is and talk with them. Call their executive assistants.  Make concerted efforts to connect with people.
  • Meet people in person for coffee and information meetings – people at the places you want to work at…and you are asking “what I can do that when I am not working?”
  • Drop into company offices and headquarters of future employer prospects (yes, they will actually talk with you)
  • Ask for help, ask for help, and ask for help.

Today I had to help with an employment and education verification with an Irvine based Company called Hireright.  I was in bureaucracy hell while following the rules trying to get a background check done quickly for our consultant to start work at a client.  So what did I do? I called Carla in the executive office of the President at HireRight.  Low and behold a Director literally called me back in 10 minutes to help.  We are a small client! However my approach with the receptionist then Carla got a call back and the company is now high on my list of favs.  Otherwise I would still be in bureaucratic hell and moaning about it.  Those in the bureaucracy were simply doing their jobs and doing their jobs pleasantly but wasn’t helping me to power through.

So, what’s the moral of part 1 you ask?  Don’t follow the rules!!!  Let me hear you shout it out!

Good, you are not going to follow the rules!!!  Be well, have a great holiday weekend and we will talk again soon. 

Part 2 of this series will tackle Build Volume into your search at the outset then get focused.

8 Seconds Until — Wait, What?

We are all deep thinkers today, right? Unfortunately NOT.

Technology has afforded us the ability to…look, a squirrel!

Research conducted by Microsoft on 2,000 Canadians shows that thanks to technology — smartphones in particular — our attention spans are shorter than that of a goldfish.

The average human attention span is now eight seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000; the goldfish has an attention span of nine seconds. Yes, a gold fish has a longer attention span than a human by one second.

With similar results regardless of age group or gender, the study found that a variety of factors inhibit our attention, among them media consumption, social media usage, technology adoption rate, and multi-screening behavior.

Multitasking was a winner in this study for heavy technology users. The researchers suggest that being able to utilize multiple sources of information might be the upshot of a shorter attention span. “Canadians’ increasingly digital lifestyles are also making them more efficient at processing information and recording it to their memories. They’re able to do more with less, so that they can move on to the next new/exciting thing.”

But is that a good thing? Are there gains due to doing more with less? Or losses because of starting, stopping, then starting again?

Bryan College’s graphical report, “How Are Millennials Impacting Today’s Workplace?” describes multitasking as just switching tasks because no one can really do more than one task at the same time. Defining millennials as 18-to-34 year-olds, the report claims millennials switch their attention between media platforms 27 times per hour, costing $450 billion annually due to a loss of productivity. That ultimately impacts workplace turnover for millennials, which a Gallup report puts at $30.5 billion.

MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller notes that our brains are “not wired to multitask well… when people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost.”

Can we reverse this trend, or have we reached a cliff? Can we counteract some of the results of the 8-second attention span? Yes — first and foremost, focus: Undertake one task at a time. Don’t move on until you complete the first task, and take a break between activities so your mind can refocus.

Technology continues to change our lives, and having a smartphone in your hand is an invaluable asset in many ways. But being able to concentrate, to focus and to think requires walking away from constant distractions and actually doing the work.

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Job Seekers: Reverse Recruiting – You are your own recruiter!

Michael Paradise Hire IT

The unemployment rate has fallen back to pre-crash levels, the economy continues to grow, and nearly every forward-looking “best jobs” list includes technology careers as a growth area. All good news for job-seekers, right?

Yes…but. It’s no surprise that the old ways of looking for employment — searching want ads or expecting you’ll be rolled over into a new position if changes occur at your company — are long gone. Candidates today need to master “reverse recruiting.”

Basically, reverse recruiting means taking on the task of being your own recruiter. It’s the concept that a recruiter probably isn’t going to find you so you need to find them, stay in front of them, and seek out the positions they’re trying to fill. You need to become your own sales team and engage in a campaign for the job you’ve found that the recruiter or HR director is trying to fill. The process goes from using the internet, LinkedIn and job boards to find opportunities to phone campaigning, snail mail and in-person “drop-bys” to prospective employer offices (yes, unannounced — can you believe it?) It also means managing your online presence — your website, blog, social media networks, professional affiliations all must support and feed into your overall strategy.

Another way to look at reverse recruiting is that in a traditional job search, the strategy is to just search and find a job. In reverse recruiting, the strategies are to create and foster an identity, engage with those in decision making positions, and make yourself be found. But if you are spending 80% of your time online and in databases you are WASTING your time. A better strategy is to spend 20% of your time online and in databases and 80% connecting with human beings — and not just recruiters, but the people who will actually want to hire you:  managers, executives, supervisors, and the like. Yes, it’s “old school” but it works.

A big difference between reverse recruiting and “old-fashioned” networking is that networking has a more social aspect to it — meeting for drinks or lunch, or heading to organized networking events with others in the same position. Reverse recruiting, on the other hand, is focused on building rapport around the goal of providing VALUE to a prospective employer. It’s about strategically identifying the resources that will connect you with the job and those who are involved in the hiring process, highlighting your strongest assets, and continually getting in front of them to sell yourself. In sales it takes 7 to 20 “touches” before a person will respond, and job hunting works exactly the same way. Because it’s not scattershot like networking, reverse recruiting is more time- and labor-intensive, yet should yield a better result. I have a had job seekers cut their job search by half by following this plan.

Your job search should be keeping pace with the latest approaches, particularly if you’re looking for a tech position. It’s too easy to get left behind if you don’t.

HOW MUCH WILL THE TECH SECTOR GROW IN 2016?

Michael Paradise Hire IT

The US economy keeps humming along, now at 70 straight months of private sector job growth and economic expansion. The unemployment rate has been cut in half since its high point after the Great Recession, but employers often struggle to find the right workers, especially in the tech sector.

That was confirmed in Deloitte’s recently-released its annual survey of 500+ executives, America’s Economic Engine: Tapping the Brakes. According to Steve Keathley, a principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP and national technology leader for Deloitte Growth Enterprise Services, “These companies are facing a dearth of talent in this respect. They need to be sourcing talent well in advance of the need because they’re vying for the same people as everybody else and it’s not going to get better any time soon.”

Deloitte also found that training is expected to take up a larger portion of budgets, and that tech salaries are anticipated to be higher in 2016.

Tech and health care are expected to lead the entire stock market into higher territory in 2016, according to Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist at RidgeWorth Investments. “Tech will gain traction as the economy continues to grow,” he told The Street.

So what are the hot jobs for 2016? InfoWorld reports these are the most in-demand positions in the tech sector this year:

• UI/UX designers/developers
• Full-stack Web & product developers
• Network engineers
• Security/cybersecurity professionals
• Mobile engineers
• Business analysts
• IT project managers
• Cloud architects/integration
• Data scientists
• Content management systems (CMS)

“Our technology needs are constantly growing and we’re finding it challenging to keep up the pace,” said David Lyons, Executive Vice President, Technology Solutions Division at Catapult Technology. “Sourcing qualified candidates from the start is key, and that’s how we’re staying ahead of the game.”

“The environment is always competitive but coupled with a growing economy the challenge is in identifying candidates who can grow into a changing role,” said Michael Paradise, CEO of Sysazzle, which recruits tech staff for public and private sector clients. “We want to lower the cost of hiring for our clients by matching skills, culture and outlook. That’s what makes a productive employee and a successful employer.”

 

“WHY WON’T YOU HIRE ME?”

Michael Paradise Hire IT

The good news is that the US unemployment rate continues to fall, down to 5% for October 2015, according to the latest statistics. “The Federal Reserve considers a base unemployment rate of 5.0 to 5.2% as ‘full employment’ in the economy,” according to Mitchell Hartman of Marketplace.

And still, that position you’ve been eyeing for a while, the one you applied for months ago, is still open. Why?

The economy is humming along and people are employed, so when openings are available employers have a larger universe to select from — of both employed and unemployed candidates. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, when the most recent recession began in December 2007, there were 1.8 unemployed people for every job opening. That ratio peaked at 6.8 unemployed people per job opening in July 2009 and has trended downward since. In September 2015 the ratio of unemployed people to job openings was 1.4.

US employment continued to decline after the end of the recession, reaching a low point in February 2010. Job openings have trended upwards since, surpassing the pre-recession peak of March 2007. There were 5.5 million job openings in September 2015, BLS says.

But still — what gives?

The AP explained in September: “Some economists say that a mismatch between the skills of many of the unemployed and the skills needed by expanding companies is a big reason that openings are rising more quickly than actual hiring. Openings are up 22 percent in the past year, while hiring has declined. For example, construction workers who lost jobs in the housing bust may not have transitioned to fields where jobs are plentiful, such as health care.”

Often employers are searching for the perfect candidate rather than a really good candidate who will grow into the position. These candidates are known by recruiters as “purple squirrels” — with an all-but-impossible set of qualifications including the right levels of skills and experience. And especially in tech hiring, these candidates are expected to boast the skill set that two or three workers used to possess. But as you know, purple squirrels don’t exist. At Sysazzle, we work with the 80% rule — if you find a candidate with 80% of what you want and the drive and aptitude to pick up the balance on the job, hire that person immediately.

Many analysts blame the hiring bottleneck on technology — the portals and databases companies now use to screen candidates slows down the process. While employers are looking for the “right” candidate, they are sorting through thousands of applications in order to avoid hiring the “wrong” candidate, which costs the company not only time but money.

“Right now hiring delays can represent money left on the table both for workers and employers. There has been surprisingly little research on ‘interview durations’ from the job seeker’s perspective, and how company HR policies influence delays in job matching throughout the economy,” notes Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor Chief Economist, in a press release from Glassdoor Economic Research. Glassdoor, the jobs and recruiting marketplace, issued a report this past summer entitled “Why is Hiring Taking Longer?” that looked at the global hiring process from the candidates’ perspective.

Employer size, location and sector also factor in, with big companies and government taking longer to hire. “Job candidates in the Washington D.C. area report a slow hiring process as government jobs in this region tend to be more dominant – candidates in the nation’s capital report the hiring process takes an average of 34.4 days, which is roughly twice the time it takes candidates in Miami (18.6 days) to get hired,” according to the report.

Additionally, candidate background checks, skills tests and drug tests also add time to the process. But is a longer hiring process the new normal?

Glassdoor’s Chamberlain told Business Insider that HR professionals are telling him, “‘I’m seeing the same thing at my company, we’re now doing more and more of these screens, because we have systems that are just set up to do it, and no one’s really evaluating whether it’s working or not.’ Fads in hiring go through cycles. They may dial back when they realize how much of a delay each of these things cause. I don’t think most people realize.”

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