Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Networking - The new "N" word.

You hear it all the time, in order to get a job you should "network". Reach out to your "network". Network marketing, networking, social networks.... its as if the the word "network" has become the magic business catch phrase of our generation. I guess it makes sense. Its usually through people, that we get introduced to great Doctors, mechanics, lawyers, and restaurants. I mean, without our "network" of family, friends and associates, where would we be? How would we gauge how much we can trust this person or experience? At least we can put it into some readily available context when someone we know and trust says something about someone or some service.

Networking, makes sense. The thing of it that is somewhat broken, however, is that most people only go to their network when THEY need something. There in lies the rub.

I got an in-mail recently (which is like an email) from a Linkedin contact who responded to something I sent him maybe a year ago. He is an IT Director at a very well known company. Anyway, he starts the message by appologizing for not getting back to me sooner (one year). He also offers to introduce me around to a few hiring managers who might be looking for a recruiter. He then says that he's looking for a new opportunity which is why he's beeing doing more of a "deep dive" into his linkedin messages. Hrmmm. Ok, so when I contacted him for something, he completely ignored it but a year later now that HE needs something, he's responding and even offering to assist me.

I admit, when I contacted him originally, I was the one who needed something. However, in my defense, I regularly and continuouly try to network regardless of my own situation or needs. I think its good practice when you've got a few minutes to simply reach out to people and share something in common. When I'm actually recruiting on an open position then of course I specifically reach out to people I think might be interested. When I'm NOT working on a position, then I reach out to managers who might have hiring needs. When neither is the case, then I reach out to people who are generally within the sphere / industry / geographic region or who share some other commonality with me for the sake of expanding the "network". The idea is in the numbers. The larger the scope of the network, the more likely you are to run across someone you can connect with or share a common interest or in this case, make a business deal happen.

However, some people flat out reject networking. They think its some dirty thing you do to use people. They think somehow you're going to infultrate their inner circle of trust and break relationships and lie and cheat your way into their world. I guess on some imaginary level I can understand the need to protect what you hold as valuable. Actually, I kind of respect that. I mean how many Facebook "friends" do you have? Are they really "friends"? I digress. On the other hand, how can you actually grow unless you allow yourself to experience new things, new people, new situations? You have to take a chance.

Anyway, networking...... do you do it often? Do you value networking even when YOU yourself don't have a present need?

My rules of thumb.

1. Always Be Networking.
2. If you don't have a need, then perhaps you'll connect with someone who will help you when you do have one in the future.
3. If you do have a need, perhaps you can reach someone who can help you now.
4. Either way, perhaps you'll connect with someone who YOU might be able to help or who might be able to help someone you know.
5. If nothing else, perhaps you can enrich your understanding and simply learn to embrace new ideas.

If you want to connect, find me on linkedin http://www.linkedin.com/in/joshuaylee and ask me to connect. I'll likely accept. myrecruiterjosh@yahoo.com or josh@topresourcescorp.com

Friday, September 30, 2011

The New Economy

It's the end of September, 2011 and you've woken up to yet another day in the ongoing gloomy job market, chaotic stock market bumping along the bottom, and a slow recovery in the economy. On the bright side, the new iPhone 5 is about to come out with projections of the most sales ever in consumer electronic history!

I've written previously about how we've sort of made our bed and its time to sleep in it (in so many words). I mean all the benefits of a robust economy were enjoyed via the artificial manufacturing of complex mathematicaly delayed consequences initiated by the government and blindly rubber stamped by the consumer. Come on...we all liked the free flow of money. Very few of us if any asked any questions back then. Times were fantastic and we all enjoyed them but those days are now gone. It's over.

Are you one of those people still waiting around for the "rebound"? Let me tell you today the harsh reality. The "rebound" you are hoping for isn't going to occur as you want. It's not going to suddenly swing up in a rush the way we crashed so rapidly. Life, somehow, just doesn't work that way. See, the crash was sudden only because we were holding back the inevitable for so long. Kind of like the kid plugging the holes in the damn with his fingers....now that the damn is broken do you think that it can be rebuilt as quickly as it can come to be destroyed? Not so. It will take years and perhaps decades.

Today, you have to work 30% harder at the same job to get paid 20% less money. Why? Because, quite frankly, it is likely you were overpaid for mediocre or subpar work. The difference is so was everyone else. Supply and demand. Jobs were plentiful, money was abundant and cheap, and so there was no reason to expect more from you. That bar has now been raised. There are 50% fewer jobs available and you are competing against 300% more people looking for work. Think about what that means.

Work hours should be expected to be longer and there is a higher degree of uncertainty, stress, and general unpleasantness.

Buckle down. THIS is how things are SUPPOSED TO BE, to some extent. Everyone has the right to demand the best. We do all the time as consumers. When a product we buy doesn't live up to our high expectations of quality and performance, we easily complain, write letters, write blogs, etc. However, when our employer demands more from us, we gripe about it.

The underlying infrastructure is broken, not because we are in a financial crisis, but the financial crisis, instead, is the symptom of what's broken underneath it all. Our banks are broken. Our stock market is nothing more than a chess board for the wealthiest 1% while the 99% of the public are collateral damage. It means you have to work for what you want and reconsider that maybe we should just focus on what we need (like everyone else in the world). Check what I said above about the iPhone.

What to do and expect?

1. Take a deep breath. We've been sort of brain washed in a way to believe that the status quo in the past was normal. Reasses. Reconsider the "value proposition" that you bring and everything you decide to buy.

2. Realize that our sense of "reality" or our "moral compass" as Americans is somewhat skewed.

3. Buckle down and work hard. Let's "earn" back our respectability.

4. Plan ahead but don't have uneralistic expectations. The ride up is going to be painful and slow.

5. Be able to sperate what we need and what we want.

6. Brush up our skill sets. Learn, grown and challenge ourselves to be better.

7. Be grateful.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A warning for the 16-20 year olds out there.

This is February, 2011, about 3 years since the Mortgage debacle really started. The first signs of a crisis were felt in 2007. The rest of the population really didn't feel it until early 2008. First Ameriquest closed its doors (voluntarily) and then New Century Mortgage went bankrupt after some belated SEC investigations. Then there were all the Investment Banks that went through their meltdowns and the government bail outs that followed.

The truth is, no matter what we think, its probably going to happen again. It may not be through subprime "no docs required" loans but its going to be something. Someone really smart and even more greedy is going to come up with something else that we're all going to jump on yet again.

Fast forward 10 years and all of a sudden that 16 yaer old is 26. Fast forward 15+ years and they'r;e around 31ish. Think about that. What's so significant about those age groups and how is that correlated to a financial crisis? What do you remember from your 25 to 30 year age bracket?

When I was 25 I got a crappy job but it was my first "real job" out of college. Like a lot of my peers, I lived at home to save money. My mom helped me save 50% of my earnings that year.

When I turned 31 I got married and bought a place to call my own.

I've purchased 3 cars since college.

I don't think my life is realy too different from others.

My theory:

1. 25 - 35 are the post college, first real job years.
2. This is the age they move out of the house (rent or purchase?)
3. This is the age they start buying their own cars and sometimes make some significant upgrades (sports car or entry luxury?)
4. This is the age they eat out ALL THE TIME

In short, this is the group that is eager to spend their money and constantly looking for more and easier ways of doing it. Not only that, now a days this group might spend even more because the internet affords even fewer obsticles than previous generations.

The biggest factor? These kids have no memory of an economic downturn. They may have heard about it or been taught it but you and I know there is nothing that can repalce experience. Remember, they were 16 or so when this stuff was happening still living with mom and dad.

This is for you guys. Be aware. Lets see what creative new financial miracle technique is thrown at us in 10-15 years.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Project Managing a Job Search

Doing a proper job search is crucial in making yourself available to the opportunities that are out there. Just like anything in life, proper planning, timely execution, accurate gathering and analysis of information, and adjusting are all important elements to getting the job. Below is a brief overview of the basics.

This is all the more important these days where the market is tighter and there is so much competition for the fewer opportunities.

Job Search Check list:

1. Plan
2. Resume
3. Track
4. Review

1. Plan - Be determined, organized, document and execute your time wisely. What kind of job are you looking for? Are you willing to relocate? What is the time frame you give yourself based on need? If you don't find a job in that time, what actions are you willing to take? Where do you plan to look? How many hours a day, how many days per week do you plan to dedicate to the search effort? What are your strengths that employers should know about? What resources are you using to find available opportunities? What are you doing to find out about jobs that are not advertised? Are you maximizing your network?

-- The leader in professional social networking Linkedin.com. If you are not already a member you should not delay and join immediately. It's just a great tool to connect and find jobs.

2. Resume - It's not uncommon to write more than one specifically highlighting different attributes which would apply to different jobs. Targeting resumes towards jobs is a critical step in getting noticed. Remember the basics of excellent resume writing. Formatting, organization, wording, keywords, and structure. Also, keep in mind that I am not advocating falsifying information but rather making it obvious what you know and what you've done to the employer. It might be a good idea to get a fresh set of eyes on your resume too. What's obvious to us doesn't always communicate the way we want it to.

3. Track - Document search efforts and give yourself a note to follow up in 3 days, 1 week and 4 weeks. Review the results and try to find ways to alter search efforts, places where you have applied, industries, resources and referrals used. You don't want to seem like a dummy when you get called back for an interview and you don't recall submitting your resume. It's really not the best first impression, believe me.

4. Review - A good plan should include 8 hour days 5 days per week of pure job search activities. I know this might seem harsh but if you're serious about getting back to work, you have to act seriously. At the end of the week, review your progress which of course you would be tracking. Alter and make a new plan. Start again the following week and repeat. Look, when you're working you put in a full day, why should a job search be any different? Only do a part-time job search and you'll get those type of results.

There is no magic formula. These suggestions are from both experience and common sense. Doesn't it make sense to put forth your best effort? Don't give up and always play your "A" game on.

Above all else, ALWAYS be ready for a phone call from an employer. Be professional, energetic and attentive to the caller free from distractions.


Next step, the Interview.....

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Job Search Statistics

You know what they say about statistics. They're only as good as the people creating them. Statistics are funny that way. You can pretty much skew the numbers to support any side of a debate based on how you splice the information. That's why it's usually best to cross reference any set of claims regarding statistical information with multiple sources.

Having said that however, guess what I'm about to do? That's right....post some information based on statistics. This information came from the folks at "Indeed" so if you have any conflicting info, I invite you to contact me. Please have a referenceable sources. :)

According to the folks at "Indeed", these are the most popular tools used to conduct Internet job searches ranked according to number of users / job seekers:

1. Google
2. Indeed
3. Careerbuilder
4. Hotjobs
5. Monster

I've been a recruiter fro nearly 10 years and I have to tell you this information surprises me. The glaring part initially is that Google is #1 for job searches. That threw me for a loop. I have my take on why Google shows up at the top. One of them is probably due to the preponderance of recruiter activity. That's pure speculation but I think it's valid. The other part that is a glaring conflict compared to my personal assumptions is that Hotjobs is ranked above Monster (at least in 2010 which means the study is for use from 2009 and prior). Hotjobs is affiliated with Yahoo (and as of 2010 w/ Monster) so perhaps there is some cross utilization there with people who are using Yahoo for other searches. I don't know.

Anyway, that's what they say.

PS - You should keep in mind also that these statistics have a way of changing month to month, year to year. It's unclear if this is ranking according to the past 10 years, 1 year, 1 month or 10 days. Who knows how exact and meaningful this really is but there it is anyway. :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Negotiating Salary and managing expectations

That's right we're talking about $ money $.

Money buys us stuff that we need and stuff that we want. It's a sensitive topic when you're negotiating a salary because both sides have opposite goals in mind. One side wants to pay as little as possible and the other wants to get as much as possible.

The bottom line is everyone wants more of it. We all know that going into the conversation. The thing is, how much are you worth to the company? The easiest analogy is to use professional athletes and how they get paid such exorbitant amounts. True, a $20 mil deal to play a ball game sounds unreasonable when there are people working 12-15 hour days sometimes at two jobs who barely eek out the basic needs of life. However, do you think that such an athlete would be paid such a high dollar figure if he didn't produce? That name fills stadium seats and commercials. Stadium seats cost money. Commercials sell shoes. Concession food is $$$ and people at ball games buy food, drinks and wear sneakers. You can afford to pay someone $20 million if he brings in 100, 200, 500, 10,000 times what you pay him.

When doing the initial talks about wages, it's important to give the topic some parameters and keep an open mind. Try to see the other side but fight for what's right.

1. Economy - Take into consideration how the rest of the world, country, state, city, business community, industry, and company is doing. Be realistic with your expectations. Also, keep in mind that salary increase is not on some linear time table that the whole world follows. You are responsible for your income based upon overall value. Just because you made $85k last year and you have 10 years of experience, it doesn't automatically mean that you deserve $90k or $95k this year --- That's exactly not the case. Think about it. If that notion were true at the end of a 20 year career in fast food, a minimum wage MC'ds employee should be paid the high six figures because he's the best burger flipper in town. That simply doesn't make sense does it?

2. Scarcity - How difficult is it to find someone to fill this specific open position? If you ask for too much, it might just be easier to go find someone else. How current and rare are your skills? More importantly, how well do your skills match with company needs? This is really the key. It's less that you are highly skilled and more to the point that your specific skills with all the intricate exposure to business processes, industry, and like environments that are crucial to the company.

3. Goals - What are the business short-term and long term objectives? What paradigm view on talent acquisition? Some companies like to get into bidding wars, especially during booming economies when money is spent like water and everyone is scrambling for the few talent that is out there. Others, don't let money be the major attraction to their company. They emphasize culture and growth potential.

5. Value - What is the ROI? If you're asking for a salary at the top 5% of the field but delivery what most others do with no or little added value, what reason do companies have of paying you so much more? Just because you've been doing it for so long? Touching back on earlier points, although hard to swallow at times, number of years does not necessarily translate to better skills. When was the last time you learned something new, added value, went beyond your "job description" to save the company money or seek out more money making opportunity? Are you satisfied just showing up to work on time and leaving on time and doing an adequate job? If so, how does that alone translate to overall increase for you? If you have a case, make one for yourself but be prepared for the harsh reality that it may not be enough or that the manager may not see things your way. It can also simply be a lack of budget during tough times.

I've talked to and met with exceptional young talent with 2 years of experience who are far better than those who have been doing it 20 years who are still mediocre.

The bottom line is this. Money is a touchy subject but a critical part of the decision making process for a new job or a raise for an existing one. Look, if you can't negotiate money, perhaps you can talk about vacation time, flex hours, or a promotion. If your company does annual reviews you might ask for a 6 month one where you might qualify for a smaller raise or bonus. Get creative. Just handle it like any business proposal with costs and benefits, market research, poise, rational thinking, and you'll be fine.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Series of decisions

How many of us when we look back don't wish we had made a different choice now and again? Perhaps 12 years ago you got called by Google to join a great Internet start up but you turned it down for a cushy mortgage bank gig. Maybe you've always wanted to pursue a music career but felt that a stable life as an accountant would be more realistic in paying your bills. Maybe you've always wanted to go to culinary school but you decided to stay at your company hoping for that promotion that never happened. Whatever the decision, we have to live with them.

The truth of the matter is where you are today in life is the result of a series of decisions or indecision, which ever the case may be, that we've made. Either way you either purposely chose to be where you are one step at a time or ended up where you are due to lack of decision.

If you are dissatisfied with your career like 70% or so of the population, according to many statistics, then perhaps today is the day to do something about it. But then again that leads to another question. How satisfied are you "supposed" to be at your job? Since when did we decided, as a society, that we are owed job satisfaction? That somehow we are "entitled" to be happy with our jobs? Then who defined what happiness with our jobs meant?

All things to consider. Two generations ago, there was no such concept. Today, that's the primary concept. People are more dissatisfied today, probably because they feel that work should be as fun as going to Disneyland with someone paying their bills.