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.

Is Your Introversion Holding Back Your Career?

Michael Paradise - CEO at Sysazzle, Inc (Business & Information Technology systems)
Michael Paradise is the CEO at Sysazzle, Inc (Business & Information Technology systems).

Even the most outgoing, extroverted professionals have a tough time managing their careers. But what if you’re an introvert? Do you have an even tougher time building the skills to get ahead, interact with colleagues who can help you progress, undertake a job search? And let’s drill down further — what if you’re an introvert in tech?

It sounds like a reality show — “Introverts in Tech!” — and research shows a preponderance of introverts in the field. IDG Connect, a technology marketing firm, surveyed 465 IT professionals, conducted in-depth interviews with industry experts, and collected first-person testimonials. Just over half (53%) of those surveyed said they were introverts, 20% said they were extroverts, and 24% claimed to be ambiverts (a hybrid). The remaining 3% didn’t know. IDG’s conclusion is that these results “correlate with a lot of the core work that IT professionals have to do.”

Indeed, the tech industry is included on Tony Lee’s list of “10 Best Jobs for Introverts.” Lee is publisher of CareerCast, a job listing and advice site.

So what, exactly, is introversion? Susan Cain, author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” discussed this in a 2012 TED Talk. Introversion isn’t the same as being shy. “Shyness is about fear of social judgment,” Cain said. “Introversion is more about how do you respond to stimulation, including social stimulation. So extroverts really crave large amounts of stimulation, whereas introverts feel at their most alive and their most switched on and their most capable when they are in quieter, more low-key environments.”

The bottom line, then, according to Myers-Briggs, is the different ways introverts and extroverts get their energy.

IDG sums up the challenge of introverts in IT this way: “There is no typical IT personality, but there are different ways of working and engaging with others. And today, as the role of IT develops, IT leaders are increasingly required to move outside the narrow remit of IT in order to sell the benefits of their department into the wider business. This could prove a double-edge sword, but it is worth remembering that you don’t have to be extroverted to sell, although you may need to be introverted to spend 12 hours doggedly pursuing one single detail-oriented development task.”

That’s especially true at senior levels, where positions are no longer siloed and every executive is responsible for the bottom line.

It’s important to interject the obvious: before you can do the job you have to get the job. Introverts can remember a few simple tips for self-presentation for interviewing during the hiring process, according to Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D. Writing in Psychology Today, Whitbourne boils down to this simple advice: prepare, prepare, prepare. She recommends asking about the interview process, scoping out the physical location, researching your interviewers, reminding yourself that you know your stuff, rolling with the punches during the interview, and leaving on a high note.

Introverts might take comfort by utilizing methodologies like the FIRST method, a communications tool used by top sales professionals and executives. FIRST aims to build relationships by uncovering the needs of others in each important meeting and conversation so you can work together successfully:

F: Foundation — develop rapport and build trust by getting to know the other person

I: Issues — uncover needs and discuss current and future challenges

R: Results — identify results sought and understand the consequences if unsuccessful at meeting the results

S: Solutions — discover and discuss possible solutions

T: Teaming — identify who else is involved in the solution and how to get started

“The key to this ‘other centered’ methodology is to be interested, not trying to be interesting,” says Richard Hoag, Esq., CEO of FIRST Professional Resources, Inc. “This is certainly a more comfortable approach for those not prone to extroversion, and people are universally more open to those who ask and listen, than those who try to tell them what to do.”

If introversion vs. extroversion is about energy and comfort, then outreach, collaboration, and consultation are the skills introverts must develop while remaining true to their core personalities in the workplace and throughout the hiring process.

Simple Ways to Build Business Relationships and Trust

Michael Paradise - CEO at Sysazzle, Inc (Business & Information Technology systems)
Michael Paradise is the CEO at Sysazzle, Inc (Business & Information Technology systems).

No doubt you have a lot of assets built in to your business — YOU are your business, not just your company. One of your most important assets is the people you surround yourself with. Your business relationships are an asset that defines what your company is and what it stands for.

Those relationships — the ones you as a leader have with your people, and the ones you and your people have with your clients and customers — can make or break your business, your future and your financial success. Fostering those relationships and building trust is key.

The following attributes are important to maintaining solid business relationships.

Being honest.

Perhaps the most obvious measure of whether you’re able to build trust is whether or not you’re being honest. You don’t need to share proprietary information or expose secrets, but being open and acting in a straightforward manner will move you closer to your people. Those you’re close to on a regular basis will know if you’re on the up and up, and will respond accordingly.

Being a resource.

Don’t just reach out when you need something, share! We all have vendors, or even friends and family members, who we only hear from when they need something. Break that habit. Connect with your customers and employees just to see how they’re doing, or if they need something. Forward an interesting article or pass on a tip. Learn to be a resource so you’re always top of mind.

Not springing surprises.

Nobody likes surprises in business. There are enough challenges that crop up no matter how well you plan, so don’t make it worse. If something bad is a possibility, deliver the news early so everyone can prepare. And if possible, bring a solution along with the problem to minimize the shock and fear that might be baked into the surprise.

Meeting or beating deadlines.

This one’s simple: be on time with your deliverables. Be on time, period. No more explanation is necessary! (If you can’t hit your target, refer to the point above!)

Rewarding loyalty and expressing appreciation.

Let your people know where they stand if they’ve been standing by you. Be it your customers or your employees, express your appreciation for their work or their loyalty. You don’t need to throw an elaborate party — a simple handwritten note outlining your pleasure for their efforts goes a long way, in a personal manner, to strengthening a relationship.

All talk + no action = bad feelings.

Follow through on what you’ve committed to. You will lose the confidence of your clients and your employees if you offer them a constant stream of promises that aren’t kept. If you deliver a plan to a client, carry it out. If you tell your employees to expect some action on an internal agenda item, deliver it. The boy who cried wolf is a lasting parable because we’ve all experienced it in some way.

There is no magic bullet to fostering relationships and trust — much of it is common sense that is easy to get lost in the bustle of your daily schedule. But if you adopt these simple rules as part of your business routine you’ll definitely be on the path to stronger relationships that will benefit your business.

The Value of Being Mentored for Career Advancement

IT Recruiting
Many young professionals believe that a good education, some work experience, and a strong work ethic will put them on the fast track to success. While all of these things are important, there is one very important element missing from this equation: a mentor. That person who will take a personal interest in your success by providing you with advice, guidance, and support throughout your career. Just like a master blacksmith during the Middle Ages who would take on a young apprentice, a mentor will take a long-term interest in your future, helping you to master your profession and preventing you from getting burned.

Whether you are midway through college, just beginning your career, taking on your first management role, or starting your own business, it is never too late to find a great mentor. Research indicates that mentored individuals perform better on the job, advance more rapidly within the organization, and report more job and career satisfaction.

In addition to advising you throughout your career and teaching you the skills you need to be successful, mentors can have a direct impact on your ability to climb the ladder. Oftentimes mentors are on the fast-track themselves, having climbed through the ranks quickly and established themselves as a master of their profession. As they move into management, get recruited to a new company, or even start their own business, they will be looking for like-minded individuals that they know and trust to help them succeed. As their protégé, you are likely to advance right along with them. Picking the right person to mentor you can have a drastic impact on your career, so it’s important that you take your time to find the right person for you.

While finding the right mentor can be a difficult task, here are a few tips for finding the perfect mentor.

  • Admit that you don’t know everything – Regardless of your education and experience, it is likely that there is someone out there who knows a lot more about your profession than you. Learning from someone else’s successes, and more importantly, their failures, will help you to avoid the same mistakes.
  • Find a mentor that shares your values – When searching for the perfect mentor, it is most important to find someone who shares your same values. Compromising your own values for the sake of professional development and advancement will leave you feeling unfulfilled.
  • Search for a mentor within your profession – This seems fairly obvious, but it’s important to consider. If you are studying to be a brain surgeon, choosing a mentor who is a dentist or cardiologist might not be the best choice. While they may be able to provide you with some general advice in the field of medicine, it is unlikely that they will help you advance your career as a brain surgeon.
  • Explore mentorship programs within your organization – Many companies and universities offer mentorship programs where they facilitate the process of finding a mentor. These can be very beneficial and are definitely worth exploring. With that being said, don’t feel like this is your only option. Don’t settle on a sub-par mentor just because your company suggested that they might be a good fit.
  • Don’t limit yourself within your organization – While finding a mentor within your own organization might be easiest, it is worth your time to explore other options. Join professional associations in your field, attend conferences and seminars, get involved in your community, and attend networking events within your field.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask – Sometimes a relationship will just build naturally and before you even know what is happening, you will find yourself seeking out the same person over and over again for professional advice. Lucky you. For most people, this will not happen all on its own. When you find someone who you believe might be the right fit, ask them if they would consider mentoring you. If they accept, be sure to setup a regular meeting time and establish some ground rules for communication. Lastly, be sure to thank them and let them know how much you appreciate their time.

The Importance of Networking for your Career

IT Recruiting
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” In the professional world, and especially during a job search, this is absolutely true and can often times be the difference between getting stuck at the bottom of a stack of resumes and landing the job of your dreams.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of all jobs are found through networking. To put this in perspective, that means that every time you apply for a job, you only have a 30% chance of being hired if you haven’t already established a relationship with someone at the company. Add in other factors such as the number of applicants, your relative qualifications, and the quality of your application, and your chance of being hired, or even getting an interview for that matter, plummet well below 30%.

Employers prefer to interview candidates referred by someone that they know and trust. Things like work ethic, personality, and cultural fit are hard to determine from a résumé, but a referral from someone in your network can ease the mind of employers. The quickest way to end up on the top of the stack isn’t through a perfect résumé or a fancy cover letter; it’s through your existing relationships.

So how do you go about building your network? It’s actually easier than you might think. Chances are, you already have a fairly sizeable network just from your existing relationships. Start with your family, friends, classmates, professors, neighbors, coaches, former employers or co-workers. Also, think about those people that perform services for you, such as your dentist, doctor, lawyer, financial planner, or even your landlord. All of these people may be able to provide you with knowledge, advice, and connections. Remember that your network grows exponentially as you meet new people, because with each new contact comes their own personal network as well.

Now that we’ve established the importance of networking, here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Sign up for LinkedIn – If you don’t already have a LinkedIn account, get one. LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with more than 277 million member in over 200 countries, including over 30 million students and recent college graduates. 90 of the Fortune 100 companies use LinkedIn’s corporate talent solutions to recruit employees and even allow you to apply for jobs using your LinkedIn profile.
  2. Get involved in your community – The best way to meet new people in your industry is to attend events and activities where these people are likely to be present. Look up networking events in your area, volunteer for local charities and philanthropic organizations, join the local toastmasters club, attend church, hit up a happy hour at your local restaurant or bar, or attend a Meetup in your area.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – If you tend to be a little introverted or have a hard time shaking a strangers hand, ask your existing network for help. Is your friend connected to someone that might be able to help you land your dream job? Ask him to setup a lunch meeting where he can make the introduction in an informal setting. Just be sure to pick up the tab!

Networking takes a lot of time and effort, but it will pay off in the end. Like anything, practice makes perfect so get out there and start shaking hands.

Good luck!