Posts Tagged ‘hiring’

Considering a New Job

December 7, 2007

In considering a new career opportunity or making a move from a current situation that you do not enjoy, here are some quick things that you need to strongly consider before accepting a role:

1. Job Match

First and foremost is whether or not it will be a good fit. If the role does not tap into your true motives and desires, then it is not a good fit. Sometimes organizations out of desperation may hire you on the spot, or earlier than expected, but do your due diligence. Understand the role and what you will be doing and look deep inside to decide if it is something you can truly enjoy.

2. The Challenge

Is the position going to stretch you? Or is it the same title, but different company scenario? You have to truly think about some of the reasons you want to leave your current situation. The underlying factor may just be that you are stuck. You are going nowhere. It is not always about the change in pay (which IS important, don’t misunderstand here) but sometimes the change in pay is not enough if the challenge the new role presents is not enough to take you to the limits. The best scenario I can give here is having a personal trainer. The reason I have a personal trainer is to push me beyond what I think I am capable of. When I do 12 sets, he pushes me to do 15. In the long run, I am much greater than I had anticipated, and perhaps gave myself credit for in the first place.

3. Impact

Does what you do in your new role have an impact on the organization? The bigger picture is always important because if you do not have a clear vision of where you want to be, you will never know if what you do even matters. That can be very discouraging. Isn’t that the core of why you want to make a move anyway? You want to know that what you do makes a difference. Make sure that it does and that you believe in it.

4. Your Own Learning and Growth

What is the future of the role? Where do you go from there? You want to have some clearly defined “paths” to growth. This can also lead to discouragement if you know you are stuck and going nowhere, much less learning anything new. You can be a little selfish here. Not necessarily the “what’s in it for me” attitude, but rather “what can I do to contribute to my own growth and help the organization in it’s overall objectives” type attitude. It needs to be a win-win.

5. Team Quality

Who will you be working with? What level are they at currently? How have they progressed within the organization. Not only does this give you a clearer understanding of the growth others are seeing, but these will be people you are working with everyday. you will develop new friendships. You will become like them. There is an old proverb that says, “Keep company with good men and good men you will imitate”. Are these the type of people you can see yourself imitating? Do they have the attitude of “your success is our success?”

6. Leadership Quality

Equally important is the quality of leadership. Like the team members, How is the team led? Is this leader a dictator, or a mentor? How involved is the manager in the recruiting process? There should be ample opportunity to discuss this and learn of the leaders that make the organization what it is so you can determine whether or not that the way they lead aligns with your principles and in helping you be successful.

7. Company Culture

This can be a tough one to sort out at first, but see if the company has a mission statement or philosophy that is posted in prominent work locations for employees to see. See if they have company newsletters you can read and learn more about the organization and the leaders (who probably have written an article or two). Look at the atmosphere of the office. Is it professional in it’s look? Remember that no company is perfect, but there should be some clear objectives in place and most employees should know about them.

8. Strategy and the Future

Where is the company headed? What are some goals and aspirations they have? Are these aspirations you can see yourself supporting and enjoying? Obviously the organization can sit down with you and share the secret sauce, but they should be able to talk about future plans and goals they are looking to achieve. Without these clearly defined, where are they going? How do they plan on getting to where they want to be?

9. Balance

Today’s corporation has to consider the Work/life balance that all of us are faced with everyday. Of course the organization has certain expectations, which is great. That is why you are looking at them, but if they require so much that other “life” things are hard to balance, you may want to reconsider. I am not saying that you can’t work hard, but don’t let life slip away. I worked in my first recruiting role as I developed my career for 60-90 hours per week for almost two years. While I could have done some things in less time, it wore on my family and there were moments I felt I was at a breaking point. You shouldn’t allow the company to bend you that far like I did. I am grateful for what I learned, and I gained a lot in my career, but it almost reached a point that it should not have reached. Consider how supportive the organization is with this.

10. Compensation/Benefits

Ah…the perks. Every organization differs and sometimes it can be like comparing apples to oranges, but there is some commonality in this area. Be open to trading one thing for another if necessary as long as it has more importance for you than the “other” thing. Be careful of hype here as well. Don’t let them “sell” you on it. You need to sell yourself on it. You need to make the decision here. Do what makes sense for you, and is competitive.

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The Art of University Hiring

December 5, 2007

In my experience in helping to set up the recruiting at local universities in my previous job and then working on doing the same for my current organization, I thought it extremely important to share some insights on this. I have been doing this for 3 years, and it is amazing what some companies do and don’t do right. I was recently answering a question on LinkedIn that prompted this article, so as promised to those who read that response, here is a much more detailed version on recruiting at your local campus.

Fostering the Relationships

This is the first step in the process, and is by far the most important before making any on campus visits. In fostering relationships with the University there are many relationships you need to focus on. I have included a list here along with some suggestions as to how and why.

  1. Deans, Executives, etc. These relationships are merely for introduction purposes. Often when I speak to someone at this level they refer me to others within the university that can help in specific departments. That’s exactly why I contact them! It is very easy to find emails, phone numbers, and such on the school website, and they are very helpful in pointing you in the right direction to find the others in this list of people you want to know. Always send thank you emails as follow-ups for their time and always talk about how much you value their school and the education their students are receiving to prepare them for the careers you wish to provide their students. I can not emphasize this enough.
  2. Career Services– these are the folks that are going to be helping you with several things. They will often times set up your employer account if you cannot do so on your own at their website (if the school has an on-line program for employers, and it’s okay if they need to set it up because it gives you an excuse to talk to someone and start those relationships by phone). They are also responsible for keeping you up-to-date with career fairs, activities, and other events coming up that pertain to you and your organization. When a fair does occur, they can help with job postings, on-campus interviews, and the all important information session (something I think a lot of employers fail to use). I will go into more details on these items in the next section.
  3. Professors – these folks are your biggest help when it comes to getting in touch with certain students. They work hand-in-hand with some of the very students that you wish to speak with, and if you haven’t been on campus before, they can steer you to the right departments of students that will fit well with what you are looking for. Plus, most of them them can lead you to the one professor that can help with the next relationship:
  4. Clubs– On-campus clubs I think are one of the most untapped resources today. One of the problems is that most universities that have them sometimes are not very organized with them. But it is interesting to note that this lack of organization is not due to lack of students. Nor is it due to lack of leadership. Oftentimes it is a lack of activities to keep the club busy and doing things that pertain to the purposes of the club in the first place. But the clubs do exist, and there are things you could be doing to tap into this. More on this later.
  5. School Newspaper – I don’t think I need to go into too many details here, but I will go into details in the next section on your use of advertising and what you should and shouldn’t do.
  6. Alumni– This is usually done through career services, but most schools have a completely separate department for these incredible resources of experienced and degreed professionals. In fact, if you are reading this and are graduated from college and know nothing about your own alumni association for your school, you need to call your Alma Mater and sign up once you are done reading this article.

Give and You Shall Receive

So now that the 6 key relationships are established it is now time to use these relationships to your advantage. You see, a university does not just exist to provide a great educational institution. It also exists to deliver the promises it made to the students when it was recruiting the student: Career placement! So with that being said, here are some of the things you can do with the relationships you have established now:

Deans/Executives

There are some Universities that have dean’s receptions, etc. These are great events! Free food, and free networking to speak with other organizations that will be at the fair and other professors that you are going to want to get to know anyway. There are so many ways to start these relationships. Plus, it gives you a chance to introduce your organization to executives of the school. Sometimes these receptions are before the fair, sometimes they are after the fair, or sometimes they are the night before the fair. Either way, find out about them and attend. It never hurts to network just a little bit more.

Career Services

This is your most important relationship as it can have an effect on all other relationships. What you do and how you handle yourself and your business with career services can make or break the entire relationship. So here are some tips:

  • RegistrationAlways register early for career fairs. Most are available in advance by several months. The earlier you are signed up, the earlier you can post job postings and the cheaper it usually is. Plus if you have been to the fair before, you may be able to request the same location or a different location. In the summer, you want to do this before schools starts so that students can see you are registered to come when they start school.
  • Resume Searches – Once registered, you can gain access to student resumes that may be a great networking resource. THIS SHOULD BE DONE PRIOR TO ANY VISIT ON CAMPUS(can you tell that this last sentence is important?). I can call a student that may not be interested or already graduated or even employed, but that’s okay because MOST of the time they have friends who are still in school or may not have found a position yet because they are 1 semester behind them, etc. Though many schools are not very good at maintaining these databases of resumes, they are still valuable resources to make contacts, and many schools are getting better as technology advances. You will want to know how to use them!
  • On-Campus Interviews– Prior to any fair, just like the registration, plan on being on campus for about a week. Why? Because not only do you need to set up some interview days to meet with students face-to-face, you also want to set up an information session on campus.
  • Information Sessions – These are valuable ways to interact with students and allows you to introduce some students to the company without the “threat” of an interview, if you know what I mean. Plus, if they are married, it allows their spouses to participate and gain insight on the organization as well. In fact, during my resume searches prior to coming to the campus for the fair, if I find students that seem like good matches, I will send a personal invitation to them to come to an info session. I invite them to consider as well any significant other that they feel would be interested in coming and may be part of the decision in the hiring process for them. The great part about this as well is you can have someone in career services send out the invite (something you will want to create to hand out at the fair as well as electronically) so that you can get the buzz already going. Can you see why this is such an important part of your trip?
  • Food, Food, Food – Students love food. Having food at the information session is a great way to attract a greater crowd, and if you order too much, I have yet to be at an information session where I haven’t been able to give the left overs to the Starving Student Association (well okay; I admit, no association really exists, but the remaining students in the halls and such are never sad to accept free pizza and soda, nor are participating students shy at taking home any leftovers to roommates and such).
  • Bring Donuts/Bagels– Okay, I know this could fall into the food category, but these donuts or bagels are for someone completely different. When you have the on-campus interviews, bring donuts and/or bagels to the staff and faculty that morning. (Who does that?) Well that is exactly why you do it. You stand out. The staff talks about your company all day because students walk in and ask about the goodies there. The staff asks too. What great advertising by word of mouth!

Newspapers

This is an important relationship as well. Prior to the fair, advertising is key to let students know you are coming. Also take advantage of the fair packages they have and the commonly known “Career Fair Guide” that is usually separate from the normal paper or comes as an insert. This is a great way to get some exposure and promote your info session to invite all to come and see what you are about. One of the most critical uses of the campus newspaper is the thank you note. What is that you ask? Well, the Friday at the end of the week of the career fair, or the following Monday you want to put a special advertisement in the paper. I find Mondays are better because more and more campuses these days have no classes on Fridays, so you will want to learn about this.

At any rate, it is the “Thank You” Letter. What I have done in the past is had the CEO write a thank you letter to the campus and sign it (actually I usually write the letter that gets approved and signed). This becomes a full page advertisement and just thanks students and faculty for a great career fair this semester (or year) and for welcoming your company as a guest on their campus. You will be surprised the effect this will have on those that read the paper. Again, doing things that stand out and are out of the norm cause the buzz you want and need. And most importantly, it just shows an extra element of professionalism by saying thank you.

Professors

Professors are your advocates with the students. Take them out to lunch. Take them out to dinner. Network, network, network. There are two main reasons for this.

Reason #1 – The first reason is that the professors you want to build relationships are those in the field in which you are seeking for students. Building the network, letting them know who you are, and answering questions they will have about your organization will help in creating a relationship that will extend to the students that they teach. Be prepared to speak about your organization with excitement and enthusiasm. Plus they can give you insider information that will allow you to find the best students. They can make recommendations and make internal announcements to classes filled with students looking for an organization such as your own.

Reason #2– You can do a presentation in their class. Well maybe not you personally, but how about individuals within your organization in the departments you are hiring for? Not only does this expose students to those they would be working with, but your managers, VPs, etc can interact and meet students that they may think are exceptional. There have been a few times where our CEO taught the entire class based on knowledge within our industry that related 100% with the subject for teaching. This may not occur in the week that you are there for the fair, but it may be worth the trip later on.

Clubs

These, as I said, are the most untapped resources of all. Depending on the positions that you have open, finding a specific club can be fairly easy. Career services, professors, and the students themselves can point you in the right direction. usually one of the professors leads the club anyway, so you may have relationships with the right people already. Then there is a student who is in charge of running the club. Keep in mind that some club leaders can change every semester, so you need to stay on top of this resource. This is where those same individuals who could present in class (in case this is not an option) you can now present to students in a club specifically designed around the role you are looking to fill. Obviously you do not want any of these presentations to be a plug for your company. Disseminate information first and establish credibility and value. Do this and the questions later will come about your company. For now, give them value. It’s just like sales: show the customer the value first and they will come to you because they see you as an expert. That’s when it is time to “sell” the company because they will be asking for it. Or invite them to the info session to learn more.

Alumni

And now finally, alumni. Again, if you have not signed up with your alumni association, you are missing out on probably one of the most valuable resources campuses can have. I mean let’s face it. Often times we only see campuses as great places to find young inexperienced people. But if all of our roles only required those minimum requisites, it would be all too easy! So building a relationship with the alumni network is huge. Not only do they have similar services (like they do for undergrads and grads), but some campuses have searchable resumes for alumni and an active job board for alumni to search and always be in touch with their Alma Mater network. If you are not in that network as well, you may be missing out on a higher paying career! Just don’t let your employer know I was the one who told you. Another benefit is that many alumni associations even have local “chapters” so that grads who live near you may have activities and such that you can participate in to build your local network as well.

Conclusion

So there you have it. There may be more to add as I continue to learn and grow in University recruiting. My hope is that this will help you get started. In the future, I may even upload files that I use and sample letters, ads, etc to help facilitate the brainstorming that goes into play to make your visit a profitable one for your organization.

Are you Ready for Sales Marriage? (Part II)

November 1, 2007

In the first part of this article, we discussed the characteristics of the product you will be selling and finding out if this fits with what it is you would enjoy doing. The second thing you should be thinking about is the “processes” in joining an organization. Oftentimes the process can reveal many things about the organization before an offer is even made. While this section will cover many of the questions you need to find answers to during your interview process, this is not a comprehensive list. There are probably dozens of others, but suffice it to say, these are generally some of the most important.

Consider the Processes: From the Interview, to Being Hired, to Training and Continued Development

When you are considering a new career option, you always need to consider the process that it takes to land you the position and then continually evaluate the processes in place to make you successful. Now obviously not every organization is going to be completely perfect when it comes to all of these processes, but if you could give them a grade, how would you rate them? Here are the main processes to consider:

– What is the interview process like?
– What is the process like after the interview?
– When and how is an offer made to join the organization?
– What is the training like?
– What benefits exist and how will you be able to continue to development and stretch yourself to grow in your career?

The Interview. There is much that can be said about the interview. Obviously every organization will do it differently, but there are probably a few things that you should take note on.

The first thing is when you go in to interview and see the atmosphere. Is this an environment that looks professional, inviting, and somewhere you can see yourself working? Again, no company is perfect, but there does need to be a genuine sense of cleanliness, professionalism and overall “care” that has been taken in the office environment. In the interview itself, think about the interviewer, the questions being asked and the information covered. Obviously there is not a lot of time to cover everything, but the interviewer is all talk and really is not finding out more about your career and qualifications, it may be just about the hype. Do you sense there is desperation in their attempts to recruit you? Or are they genuinely trying to find a good fit based on experience, education, environment, etc? The questions themselves should be well thought out and organized to allow the interviewer to truly cover those things that are important to the organization. If you feel the questions are too basic, or do not go deep enough, you may want to consider this in your search for a fit.

Another practice I have unfortunately seen in our industry as well as other sales industries I have recruited for is the need to “bash” the competition. If the interviewer feels the need to speak about the competitors, it should be in a good light or should focus on the value of what their personal organization offers rather than on what others can’t do. Now in your personal research (which I would expect you to be doing), I know you will be very interested in understanding the differences and understanding the competition which is very important, so it is definitely appropriate to ask and find out more, just take note on how this type of question is handled by the interviewer.

The last thing to think about in the interview process has been mentioned briefly already, but I mention it again because it is very common in sales organizations: HYPE. It’s rather funny to me that some people feel that hype and boasting wins someone over. In almost every case I have seen, no one wants to be “sold” to. I remember an interview with an organization near Bountiful during my last move that I made. I hardly said anything in the interview because the interviewer did most of the talking about things that were not important to me. He focused on making money at whatever the cost and brought in several people that seemed like slick city folk looking to make money no matter what, which they must have because they were making thousands and millions. Were they rich? Absolutely. But my question was how wealthy were they? Hype often means you will be using the old school method of selling using torture techniques to close a deal.

Just talk about the features. Have a list of doubts with answers to rebuttal anything. Apply pressure, and close. Oh, and don’t forget to not let them say anything about what they want, because they don’t really know. Apply more pressure, close again. Repeat if necessary.

Silly isn’t it? I will NEVER work with those types of people. Just like true professional sales should be, if the partnership and doing business together makes sense, why would I have to hype it up into something it isn’t or ramble on about the money when it should never be JUST about the money anyway? Besides, in my sales experience, this type of practice leads to refunds. In hiring, this same practice leads to turnover. In a sales marriage, it’s kind of like the rebound relationship right after a break up. You jump from one to the next, wondering why you keep having such bad luck. Well luck can be controlled if you know what to look for and avoid the rebounds in the first place.

Post Interview. So now that the interview is complete, you are on an emotional high right? Well you should be if the interview process fulfilled what we have just talked about. If you don’t have any excitement about it, or if you didn’t lose sleep that night, it may not be the right type of relationship. There needs to be a passion, and remember passion can exist without hype. One of the best ways to measure this is thinking about ho many people you spoke to about it after the interview. Did you speak to a spouse, a roommate, a friend, mom, or dad?

So now you need to think about the next step. Did the interviewer explain the process or just send you on your way? Did you even ask what the next step was? In my experience, I always leave a homework assignment for those who have come in. Why? Because I am trying to see if they have that passion I just mentioned. If you truly felt the passion, you will call me back, or leave a message or send an email. I make it simple: I give you a homework assignment called the “Interview Script”. It accomplishes two things: first it tells me that you are genuinely interested in moving forward since you took the initiative to call me and leave it on my voicemail. Second, I do grade them, and let’s be honest: at TrueNorth, everything you do is over the phone. So this allows me to hear you on the phone saying some of the very things you are going to be saying to our clients’ every day. So of course I want to know what you sound like on the phone and more importantly, if you can read a script without sounding like you are reading it to me. Is the company you just interviewed with taking it this seriously as well?

The Offer. Written documentation is a must. If verbally they just say you will start next Monday and there is no written agreement, I would question their hiring practices. If they are a good sales organization looking seriously to find the right types of candidates, there should be some formal agreement that is created and distributed to you. For TrueNorth, no offer is made without something in writing signed by myself. We will be very up front about everything in that offer letter including any legal documents that need to be signed before coming in. There is no reason to hide anything, and if they can’t take the time to formally agree to a position in writing, why would you agree with an offer that does not technically and often does not legally exist as well?

The Training. There is much that can be said here as well. How long is the training? What are the expectations during training? Will you be getting one-on-one attention, or just sit next to someone and shadow for a few days? The more serious the organization takes training, the more committed you know they are in YOUR development (which we will discuss in the next section). That should be very important to you and the organization in establishing this “sales marriage” we have discussed here.

One of the added benefits of working at TrueNorth is not only the 3 week “Sales Academy” (which is our training program for new folks) but after 90 days, all of our employees gain access to our coaching materials as well. It’s kind of like a library, where you can check out those items that are interesting to you in learning. So the training goes beyond just the sales roles. In fact, in our September 2007 newsletter, The Compass, our CEO Mike Gillespie said,

“Regardless of what you do for the company, just know you are a key part of our mission to Educate and empower people to make positive change. So if you’re ever having a challenging day, don’t lose perspective on the impact your life’s work is having on others. I would also challenge you to take advantage of the programs we offer, learn how to invest in the markets, buy and sell real estate, and reduce your debt. Our mission includes educating and empowering YOU to make positive change. Thanks for all you do.”

Continued Development. So if the role does not offer an immediate stretch from what you have done in the past, you may get bored quickly. Continued development of your career and abilities is crucial to your remaining happy (believe me or not). It is amazing to me to see people that at one point were quite successful, but decided to “take a break” from the stretch that helped them achieve that success in the first place. If the role is not challenging, why take it on? There is always something exhilarating about taking on a new challenge. When you think about it, those people that pushed you to excel are the ones you respect the most. They saw the potential in you when all you could see was the list of leads staring at you from the desk next to the phone you had to pick up again. (Yes, I have had days where my Toshiba SD20 and I were not on the best of terms).

So how is your sales marriage so far? Is it on the verge of divorce? Blossoming more than ever? Next time, we will discuss the final area of importance to look at when making your career change in sales. Until then!