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 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 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.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dress Code

What's in a dress code?

This is a topic that nobody really gives much thought about except for the practical benefits of comfort in the work place. Aren't you glad the days of suites and fedora hats are long gone? How about for women who were expected to wear dresses?

Watching the show "Mad Men", which takes place in the sexy Advertising industry in New York during the 60's, is a cultural education that I appreciate very much. The martini lunches, the way men and women interacted in the work place, and all the great perks of being a big city exec. were a pretty cool thing of the past. Woah...wait a minute. How about luxury jets, lavish get-aways, and huge 7 figure bonuses on walstreet? Ok, things have not changed much at all except to get increasingly excessive.

Most of us work in business casual environments. For most companies, this means Khakis and a collared golf shirt is acceptable while jeans and tennis shoes are reserved for Fridays. A growing tech population driven by young hot-shots and inventive ways to looking at the world don't have much of a dress code at all except to merely reflect the popular culture of the surrounding area. This means that torn and faded jeans, embroidered designer T's and sweatshirts with spiky hair are all acceptable. Tattoos are cool and piercings are no big deal just as long as you're a hot shot programmer.

There is still a bunch of people in a more traditional environment that wear suits all day and every day. Attorneys of course and in some cases sales positions as well as those walstreet brokers still "dress" for work. No wonder they get those big bonuses, they have to fill their closets with two thousand dollar suites and matching shoes.

What's in the clothes?

All I know, is that the suites make all the money. Sure there's the exception of Microsoft and Google and other "tech" oriented companies, but if you look at the top 10%, they are still the suit wearers of the world.

I guess if that's the case, I'll be showing up to the office in my Hugo Boss soon enough.


There is no place for arrogance in the interview process or anywhere for that matter. Go to the 20th floor of any building with a view of the street below. Spend 10 minutes just gazing out at the hundreds of people and cars getting to where they're going. Some of them are janitors, teachers, Doctors, Lawyers, CEOs of major companies, tax accountants and so on. Just take a look. Look how many people there are and from the 20th floor they are nothing but a tiny spec. Take a look at the horizon and the beauty of the blue sky then the vastness of the ocean (if you're in California and near the beach). Then take a look down at the street again.

How do you compare in significance to all the beauty even within just that little piece of this tiny planet that's visible from the 20th floor?

It's important to know your place.

Grocery clerk programmer

So I was recruiting for a software developer recently. I think it was the front-end / UX developer role for a small but innovative interactive company and this guy emails me his resume. I take a look and it looks decent so I give him a call.

Anyway, long story short:

Me - "So what's your salary requirement?"

- "What does this position pay?"

Me - "Well, there's a range... depends on your skills and fit. How about a ball park?"

- "I have 3 years of experience and am a perfect fit...I have all the skills you've mentioned to me"

Me - "That's interesting. So how about we don't play games and just get to it. I don't want to waste your time or mine. Just give me a ball park and I'll let you know if we're close."


Me - "I don't think the position is going to pay that high....doesn't look like a good fit"

-"What is it paying?"

Me - "Well, I think they wanted to pay in the $60-70k range for the right person"

-"I'll take $70k"

---We talk some more and eventually I end the conversation by telling him he's probably not the right fit. Also, in the conversation I learn that he's been a grocery clerk for the past 3 years. I didn't realize his resume was depicting part-time work and in fact he didn't really even have as much experience as he had advertised himself to have. Needless to say we didn't move forwward.

A fresh start - 2010

I forgot all about this blog and recently thought it might be good to start inputting into it again. So what's new people? One thing's for sure, the economy could be better but that's a whole other can of worms not worth going into right now. Just a note. National unemployment is just under 10% according to Labor statistics. California unemployment is just under 12% I think.

So the last couple of years, I've been doing some interactive recruiting. It's been fun for the most part. I work with cool technology, it's a very casual atmosphere, flex hours, and people are generally energetic, young and cool.

This is a unique recruit. These are smart people looking for really smart people. Funny to put it that way but it's true. Technology is really where it's at and when you begin to really hone in on top talent you realize how in a particular field (programmers for instance) those who merely just skate by and those who excel really stand out.

So far so good.... now only if the CEO would pay me more.... ;)