Career Points from a Recruiter’s Perspective

No, I’m not a recruiter, although I have done my fair share informally. I had the opportunity to participate in a panel last week for a recruiter’s group so I thought I’d share some key points that came up as these can help you in the work you do, or if you’re looking to make a career transition at any point:

  • Traditional interviewing is not dead, although seems to be fading fast: the opinion of some recruiters is that they don’t need to bring a job candidate in to the office for an in-person interview; they feel using Skype is acceptable due to time and money constraints, in addition to ease. However, they would like to see candidates be more prepared in both their dress and preparedness; a few recruiters said they’ve had candidates ‘show up’ in casual wear and even pajamas!
  • The phone interview is still the first step to hiring
  • Mid-career and older workers are still valued: not all focus is placed on younger workers, although a consensus is that it is more difficult for older workers to get hired. Some opinions were that older workers are not presenting themselves as well by show-casing their skills and experience. The majority feel that organizations need to change their mentality on older workers and look at the value they bring, perhaps in more mentoring and coaching positions to younger workers.
  • Background checks are very important to getting hired: all recruiters stated that they do background checks, which can uncover missteps that a candidate may believe has been expunged or is ‘too old’ to have any validity. Background checks are extensive, more-so for governmental positions. The one thing they all agreed on is to never omit – or check ‘No’ – that you’ve had some ‘blip’ in your past; it’s not the ‘blip’ but the lie that will omit you as a candidate.
  • Job and culture fit: is it critical that a good fit be made in both the job tasks and the culture to work in, which the group agreed on; however, this is not always done with onus being on both job candidates and the point-of-contact for an organization. Reading job descriptions to ensure a fit, as well as ensuring those descriptions are detailed and well-written so a potential candidate identifies, is the start; asking the ‘hard’ questions, on both sides, will help to ensure the fit is there. Being honest about all aspects of the job, such as expectations for work (attendance, actual time spent, vacations, promotions, etc.) and opportunities to stand and be recognized should be required topics to ensure fit is there. Both sides want to have a win-win outcome.

I hope these points are helpful when looking to make a career transition, whether that is within or outside of your organization. Be sure to do your homework, meaning know your skills and what you bring to an organization; beef up on your interviewing skills, which includes online, to present yourself well to a potential employer; be honest; and know your needs regarding the type of organization you want to work for in terms of the overall feel as well as the for the type of work to done, and how that work is expected to be performed. Being happy in your job is something we all strive for – it starts with you and the categories referenced above.

If you want help in your career, whether to be happy in your work or in making a career transition, then contact us today to get started!

Making the Case for Leaders to Focus on the Strengths of their Workers

A new study out by Gallop (Rigoni & Asplund, 2016) makes the case for managers to focus on their employees strengths that will get the work done and achieve organizational goals. According to the study, 67% of workers are engaged when their managers use a strength-based approach by recognizing and honoring their strengths. Workers value being recognized for what they’ve brought into the organization and being allowed to use their skills and talents – this is what keeps them involved in the work they do, as well as the organization overall.

A strength-based approach focuses on what an employee is doing well, versus only tending to them when something goes wrong. This reminds me of how a Transformational Leader works, as well as the practice of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) (Cooperrider, 2005). When focusing on what is going well, it creates a positive feeling that makes one want to keep doing the positive actions they’ve been doing. The negatives tend to come out but not in a confrontive way; they will come naturally, becoming less threatening which can allow the worker to feel less fearful or defensive, and more open to any suggestions for improvement. Also, when positives are recognized it leads to a worker wanting to do more, ala self-empowerment and self-efficacy.

If focusing on strengths will increase not only engagement levels but also openness and positivity towards the leader and the organization, why aren’t more using these practices? I am not sure how many in leadership role, or potential role, really think about the types of leadership models they can adopt, nor am I sure if the average person actually takes to determine the type of leader they want to be. Knowing the various options available will make for a better leader and a better organization. Focusing on strengths is one to model after.

Is an Idea Ever Too Big? 3 Steps to Tell

When working with clients who come in frustrated and ‘stuck’ in taking their business forward, I often find it’s because they know what they want but they are afraid to say their ideas are too big. They usually state that their idea is ‘ludicrous,’ or ‘stupid’ – no one will get what I want to do.

Personally, I don’t ever believe that one’s idea is too big or stupid. We wouldn’t be sitting here with electricity or air conditioning, nor would be driving cars or flying in planes. Everything that we have today was born out of someone’s ludicrous idea. It’s just that the people whose ideas we are using today were brave enough, and passionate enough, to do something about them. They were willing to risk the time, the money, the failures, and the laughter that followed them around.

But, somehow, through this perseverance, the laughter died down and genius was accepted. Did they have a fear of failure – yes. Did they worry what other people thought of them – yes. But their passion for their idea was stronger.

If you’re sitting on the fence with an idea to either start or grow your business, I’d tell you to make the leap and jump off – NOW! There is no better time to take your idea and make it become a reality. People are hungry – it’s just finding the right market. Here are three tips to help you make the leap:

  1. For the idea you have, you may have to do some more research: has this been done before? If so, how have they branded and marketed the idea? What do I know about it and what do I need to learn? This is the time to mindmap your idea, which basically is putting the idea in the middle and then outlining all the steps you think it would take to make it a reality. This is a great exercise to tap into the right, creative side of your brain – no limits or judgements allowed
  2. Now that you have those ideas on paper, prioritize the steps as to importance; I recommend using the principles of Kaizen and start with the least threatening to override any fears that may arise. List out actions you can take, people or resources you need to make them happen
  3. You may need to ‘sit’ with these to take them in and get comfortable, which helps to override the fear. Talk to someone about what you’ve uncovered, which could be a supportive family member or friend, or a business coach who can listen with no judgement and give you the encouragement you need to begin

For now, this is about nurturing your ideas, no matter how big, and looking objectively for how they can become a reality. As I say, your possibilities can become your reality; getting the possibilities out is the start.


New Month – Plan Big, Finish Strong

I always¬† month. It gives me hope and optimism that I get to plan out each day for how the month goes. The fact that I am in control makes me want to plan big – no plan is too big, I say. If we don’t dream big, we play small.

If you’re tired of playing small, here are 3 tips to get you thinking in the big space:

  1. Set aside time, either 15-30 minutes to detox and open up to receiving what ‘downloads’ you will get from this exercise. Breathe and relax to allow ideas to come
  2. Set a timer, say for 30-60 minutes, to allow those ‘downloads’ (ideas) to come; have paper and pen available to write them down, not judging or limiting what comes up. Look at different aspects of your life: career or business goals; fitness/health goals; spiritual goals; relationship goals (both intimate/friendships as well as work and friendships); financial goals – I’m sure you get the picture. No idea is too small or big at this point of the exercise.
  3. Now it’s time to go deeper into your planning, taking each goal and dissecting it as to when you want to accomplish it, what people/resources you need, as well as some specific steps it will take to finish strong. I’d recommend buying a sketchpad = they come in all sizes and have some cute covers – and draw out the ideas you have, as this helps the right brain come alive and makes the goal more compelling and visually ‘real.’

Once you’ve done the steps above, you should be really clear and motivated to get started. Working on the principles of Kaizen, find the smallest or easiest step you can take that will launch you into action mode. Ready…Set….Go!


Do Numbers Really Reflect Employee Engagement?

I’m sure you’ve heard the term ’employee engagement’ to reflect what an organization wants in their workers. Engagement has several meaning, but basically it’s an emotional connection one has with their work. It doesn’t necessarily mean job satisfaction or ‘fit.’ It’s an individual feeling that results from getting one’s needs met on the job.

This begs the question if employee engagement can be measured, as some suggest. I was reading an article the other day which related that it can be measured in terms of numbers in turnover, or worker’s comp claims. But I kept thinking ‘do those really reflect if one is truly engaged in their job?’ One can leave a job for a number of reasons, which may have nothing to do with their love for their job, such as family issues, location, or even a better opportunity. This confused me in relating the two.

Sure, we can look at performance which would equate to productivity and the outcomes produced, and which can be measured. But, again, this does not always mean the person is emotionally connected to their work. We do have to look at an individual’s motivational needs and how they are being met by their employer to see if an emotional connection has been made.

To me, the best way to truly measure engagement levels is to survey and ask employees their views on their work, the organization over all, and what needs specifically are being met (or not). This could help the organization to take the pulse from the people they need most and can lead to developing programs and strategies to meet those needs. This could also open the lines of communication and trust-building between workers and their leaders and let them know they are important and cared about – two factors that have been shown lead to being emotionally connected.

Numbers do speak but not always – it’s the voices of your workers who matter most.

Should Leaders Listen to Current Trends and/or Follow What They Say?

As one who trends current practices, tendencies and even fads that impact the world of work, I am often amazed at not just how these trends get started but how they catch on and followed by the masses. The recent Pokeman craze is a bit beyond me – I never played it when I was younger; however, it does have its pros and cons as we can see the downsides, such as accidents and even a few deaths. But it certainly has its pros as it is helping bring people together as well as bringing in business for those who capitalize on this craze.

I often wonder, though, as I’m following workplace trends, if leaders within an organization are listening to them and doing something about them. I hear daily in my work with clients and in my graduate classes of problems that are continuing to occur within organizations and leading to a continuing unhappy workforce. Recent Gallop numbers (July, 2016) indicate that disengagement levels are back up around 70%, and are even higher for governmental workers. Is this a trend that is paid attention to in order to turn this around and create a new trend of happier workplaces?

If newer leadership studies and practices are indicating that heartfelt and transformational leadership is needed to increase more engagement, why is it that the old traditional ways of leading people are still going on, which is based on production and output? This is not to say that these are not needed or should not be the focus of an organization; but when the focus is only on them it can lead to decreased performance, dissatisfaction, and even burnout.

Effective leaders know this – they are aware of what is trending in their field as well as in their organizations. They survey and test these trends to determine their validity and applicability and get to the needs of their workers. Good leaders read, study, and look at how they can apply positive trends, while reducing those that are negative. For instance, boredom is becoming common among workers and reasons can vary from routine tasks to no skill variety; if a leader was aware that boredom can cost organizations money in term of lost productivity and work not being produced, they can look at job redesign to increase knowledge and skill use, or get workers involved in creative problem-solving activities for how they would make their work more appealing.

Good leaders are not afraid to release the reigns to their workers as newer trends show that worker engagement goes up 71% when leaders recognize strengths and give empowerment to workers (Gallop, July 2016). So, my advice to those of you in a leader position, or if you are aspiring to be, is to research and follow current trends in your industry and become more involved in your organization to determine if these are occurring and how you can either overturn them or capitalize on them. Don’t be afraid to take some risks and talk to your employees to get their opinions, or just get to know them – when workers know you care about them they will follow you anywhere, which is one of the biggest trends today.

Goal Check-In and Your Own Olympics Competition

Happy August! Here we are at another new week and new month = plenty of time to get those goals accomplished. This is my birthday month, also – hate the numbers but am blessed to be alive another year with plenty of opportunities available for me to create.

This is also a time for other celebrations, as I have six other family members who will be celebrating birthdays in the next two weeks – watch Leo power when we all get together! Another celebration will be for my Uncle Lou, who passed away last week.

The Olympic Games will be starting this week so why not think of your goal accomplishment like your very own Olympics competition?

  • you may compete in the sprint race, where you will run to the finish line to get your goal finished;
  • you may be the archer who will laser focus on your goal to really hone in on one decisive action you can take to get it done;
  • you may be the one who runs the mile or swims the 1500 meter, where it is slow and methodical but focused on the gold at the end; or
  • you may be on the soccer or rugby team and need to have a group around you to help you get the goal done

We sometimes need to ‘trick’ our brain to make our desires more pleasurable and reward-focused so we will go after them, no matter what. Keeping the end in mind is the appeal, IF that ignites our passions and we can see, hear, feel and taste it; igniting the senses is a great way to ignite the brain into getting what we want. Begin to visualize the goal, rewrite it out in detail (include sights, noises, people, etc.) as these make it more real and attainable; track your progress to ensure you are on the right track.

I’ll be watching the Olympics and I encourage you to do the same as this is a great way to be inspired and to see the results of going after a goal; if they can, so can you. Wishing August to be productive and a success!

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