Company

The Best Time To Find A New Job Is When You Don't Need It.

The Best Time To Find A New Job Is When You Don't Need It.

In other words — Always be prepared to leave a job, because your employer is always prepared to leave you. More and more, many companies (not all, mind you) find themselves letting employees go for a number of different reasons.

Great Tips From A Retained Recruiter.

I love Reddit. Many years ago, a retained recruiter hosted a huge 'AMA' (Ask Me Anything) post. They delivered great responses which were spot on. Here are some of the best (please disregard the grammar - I wanted to preserve the questions asked):

What To Wear

Q: I have an interview at a small eCommerce company (~10 people). I was told by the recruiter that they hired, that they have no dress code and they wear sweat pants and stuff. If the atmosphere is that casual, would it be unwise to suit up for the interview like I normally would?

A: I think you should always wear a suit and tie to a first round interview. If one of the interviewers tells you that you can come back more casually for a second round, then do so, but always a suit in the first.

Q: What is the best thing for a girl to wear for a business professional interview? I've googled, done research, asked people and I keep getting conflicting answers. What is your take?

A: Just look professional. I said before that a pants suit/skirt suit doesn't make a hell of a lot of difference these days except to maybe an ancient law firm partner who thinks pants are for men and the kitchen is for women. Jacket, blouse, skirt or pants suit, you'll be fine.

Leaving Your Company

Q: How do you answer the question "Why are leaving current company?"

A: With an honest answer. Either they're not offering you new challenges or the opportunity for advancement, you see a downward trend, you have a genuine interest in the business of the company you're interviewing with, any number of reasons. You better have a damn good, honest and compelling answer for this one because this is an extremely important interview question.

I'm A Bad Interviewer

Q: Do you think there's ever a case where someone interviews poorly but is otherwise a great worker?

A: Yes and good interviewing techniques should be able to distinguish this. A truly "poor" interview by a good candidate should only be due to nervousness. Those who can't clearly articulate their experience and positions usually aren't top candidates.

Short Time At A Company

Q: What's the best way to handle a very short period at a company? For example, a candidate that switched jobs only to find that the new position isn't a good fit or the company is collapsing and now they're looking again after six months. Should you list the month of hire on the resume, or just leave the year and let the recruiter/manager infer a range? Is this a big hurdle or a little one when it comes to getting an interview?

A: Here's the Catch 22 with this. It's not appropriate to list "reasons for leaving" with every job on your resume but it also doesn't look great when you only have 6 months at one place. It's also kind of tough to fudge by using years only instead of years with months - unless you've been in the workforce a while, it looks like you're hiding something. If you've had a bunch of jobs for about a year, you're going to look like a job-hopper anyway so I wouldn't worry any more about it. If it's an aberration, then you might want to put an RFL as a small subtext but I'd stay still skip it.

Salary Discussion (remember - this is a recruiter answering)

Q: What's your advice for handling the "what are your salary requirements?" question. Sometimes, I hear this right off the bat; I don't like to answer because it depends on benefits and other factors. Some recruiters insist on getting a number and get sort of angry when I say "no".

A: You can't avoid this. It absolutely needs to be discussed. First you need to know what your motivation is in seeking a new job. If it's money, that's fine. If it's skills, that's even better. If it's money, phrase it like this: "I'm currently making $X with a planned yearly raise coming in June that will bring me to $X. While I'm happy at my current role, I feel under compensated based on what my colleagues at other firms are earning and I would be looking to earn $X+10 for this role based on my experience and what the market is bearing." If it's experience: "I'm currently making $X and can live comfortably on that. I don't see much in the way of future growth where I'm currently at so I'd be looking for an equivalent package with your company, ideally with a small cost of living bump to cover me during the transition between jobs."

Summary & Purpose Areas On Résumé

Q: Most resumes open with a "purpose" or "summary" or some such thing. Simply put, what should you put in there? Action-sounding or attention-grabbing words? Aggrandize yourself? Make demands? Maybe even a dry joke?

A: These sections seem to be getting longer and longer, mostly as a result of lousy "outplacement" services. Summary and Objective are two different things. A summary is only appropriate for a senior level professional and even then, I'm not a huge fan of them. They're more a tool to explain a skill set when a person has had a non-traditional or (for lack of a better word) "choppy" work history. An objective line should in one or two sentences, relate your experience to the job you are applying for. These should always be short, to the point and relate both to YOUR SKILLS and the SPECIFIC JOB YOU ARE APPLYING FOR.

College Degree Different From Past Jobs

Q: I work in a technical field but have a BofA degree in a totally unrelated non-technical subject. How should I handle it? Sometimes I get asked about it in interviews. Should I even bother mentioning it in my resume?

A: Sure, always mention your degree. You don't want people to think you didn't go to college! Just tell them how it is - you pursued your passion in college, enjoyed it, realized it wasn't a career and then got a job where you learned the skills you need in your current career. Stress the "on the job" training part of it. What you learn in college is rarely translatable to what you end up doing day to day and showing a hiring manager that you understand this will demonstrate that you are aware of your own strengths and weaknesses... which ties nicely into another standard interview question.

Should I Make That Résumé Follow-Up Phone Call?

Q: All day I've been browsing advice on the "resume follow-up phone call". Some hiring managers say it is annoying when someone calls just to check in with no purpose, while others say it shows they care about the job? Thoughts? Also, I see widely differing opinions on whether you should try to set up an interview during the follow-up call. Please help me navigate this, I need to do it tomorrow!

A: If you can take an honest look at your application and think you are a good fit for the job, not someone a company should "take a chance on" then you should make the follow-up call. If you have the ability to push for an interview then by all means go for it but I think in most situations you'd come off as overly aggressive.

Why Aren't They Calling Me Back?

Q: Here's a question, because I can't keep stressing about it silently. What's the deal with small companies that bring you in for around 10 interviews (you meet and get on with everyone there), give you homework to do, are totally impressed and need the weekend to 'talk to some people and figure out an offer, but we'll be in touch on Monday." Then Monday comes and goes and you don't hear anything, so you email them nicely on Thursday to 'stay on their radar' and they say they'll discuss the next Monday. Then THAT Monday goes by, you send another email, and this one isn't responded to. That was last week. What's going on?

A: They're meeting other candidates. Don't stress about it. Any company is going to do this and smaller ones are pretty notorious about letting feedback deadlines slip, with candidates and otherwise. Pick up the phone and give someone a call there. A voicemail might not get you a callback in this situation so I'd block your number (*67), call the switchboard or a direct line and if you don't get the person you want, try back again later, don't leave a VM. Bottom line here is they brought you in ten times because they're interested. They still are, just looking at other candidates to feel secure in their decision to hopefully hire you!

Ask Rich Gee: Career Questions From Quora.

Frequently, I am asked questions from people within the website Quora — I try my best to answer most — but candidly, there are too many. Here are some of my best answers to great questions concerning people's careers:

What is more difficult in the long run, working for a company or running your own business?

Both are difficult and rewarding in their own ways:

  • Company - you have a boss to keep happy, you have set work hours, you get a regular paycheck, you get a paid location to work at, you get benefits, and you also get jerk bosses, the chance to lose your job instantly, cancelled projects, and frequently depressed coworkers.
  • Business - you have a clients to keep happy, you have flexible work hours, your paycheck is based on how hard your work and hustle, you get to work at home, you get to pay for your own benefits, and you also get no jerk bosses (but jerk clients), the chance to lose your clients at the drop of a hat, cancelled projects, and you might be frequently depressed.

All kidding aside (but I was telling the truth) - both have their ups and downs, sometimes you feel in control with both, and sometimes you feel out of control with both.

I've done both - 20 years in corporate - 14 years coaching - and both are hard/easy, rewarding/frustrating, but all in all - it's a great ride.

My suggestion? Start a company.

How long does it take to settle in at a new job?

On average - 3-6 months. Not only do you need to meet, develop and hone relationships with key people, you need to learn the whole business - how it works, what are the levers/movers, what are the clients like, etc.

You also need to see how the company reacts to emergencies, slow-time, reactive decisions from management, and industry shifts.

I hate to say 'settle in', because when I'm settled, I'm bored. You need to constantly challenge yourself - do new things, meet new people, etc.

Where on their resumes might long-term unemployed job candidates address their current career gaps?

Are you not getting traction with your current résumé? (a lot of opportunities/recruiters/hiring managers passing on you?)

If not, don't do anything. If so, and if the gaps are frequent and wide, you might want to fill in those gaps. Some suggestions:

  1. You didn't sit on the couch all day and watch Jerry Springer. You probably did something - volunteered, side job, etc. Let them know.
  2. Did you try to start a business? Did you do side work (consulting) that you were paid for? Let them know.
  3. If you really didn't do anything for a LONG time and your résumé isn't getting traction, you might say you helped out a sick family member at home - most of the time recruiters might ask a small question, but it's happening more and more every day as our population ages. I know this might be a 'white lie' and a fireable offense - but if you are consistently striking out, you have to do something to change the dynamic.

#3 might rankle some readers — but there are a lot of people who are lost right now looking for a replacement job and they've gone YEARS without employment.

What kind of advice would you give to a 40-something starting a new job where she'll be working alongside 20-somethings?

  1. Listen more than preach. You are not their 'sensei' right now, you just work with them. Also, be patient.
  2. Ask questions. They might know more than you do. And they probably do.
  3. Don't talk about your kids, your injuries, your parents, or any other 40+ year-old concern. 20 year-olds don't care.
  4. Don't try to 'be cool'. Be yourself. Be interested, but be yourself.
  5. Let them make their own mistakes. If they ask you for advice, then you give it to them. Ultimately, they will look to you as their 'sensei' if you do it right.
  6. Try to do things that they do. If they invite you out for drinks, go. If they mention a band, listen to them. If they talk about a movie, check it out.
  7. Compliment them. We tend to forget to do that with our younger counterparts.
  8. Work out, stay in shape, eat healthy, and keep a close eye on your wardrobe style. You don't want to dress like Lou in MadMen. Also keep an eye on your hairstyle.
  9. Look at your glasses style. Too many guys and gals wear really old frames they wore in high school. Get with the program and style up.
  10. Grow an interest in some of the things they might be interested in - music, movies, books, theater, etc. If you show a sincere interest in their passions, they might ask you about yours.

Extra-Credit: Keep up with TECHNOLOGY. I'm 52 and get so angry at people my age who have problems, disregard or disparage simple technology I use easily. YOU LOOK OLD immediately if you have frequent problems with email, the web, your phone (get a smartphone), etc.

Is Your Competition Waving As They Pass You?

On with one of my oldest clients this morning and came up with a spot-on analogy about a lot of organizational management today: Your company is a ship on the open sea and your mission is to navigate and guide it into port.

Your captain (management) wants you to take it in slow and steady, so they hit their schedule perfectly. They don't want to expend any more fuel, any more people, or take a chance by accelerating the ship to get to the port faster. It's the way they've done things for years and they are not changing.

Unfortunately, you're guiding the ship and you're seeing all of the competing ships (and some speedboats) passing you by in the night because they are going faster and using innovative techniques and strategies to beat you.

But the captain doesn't see this, because they're sleeping. But you do — and you tell them everyday that the ship needs to go faster and to develop innovative techniques and strategies like your competition.

The captain disagrees. "Slow and steady will get us into port on-time and on-schedule" (and the captain will be rewarded by management with a healthy bonus if this happens).

But you know the competing ships (and speedboats) will hit port way before you do, unload their cargo, sell their wares quickly, and be off before you realize it.

In addition, when they pass, they are making bigger waves that affect your ship's progress. But the captain maintains a slow and steady approach.

They are NOT LISTENING.

And you're seeing the future of your industry happen RIGHT BEFORE YOUR EYES.

And you're not part of it. You're a spectator. And the competition is EATING YOUR LUNCH.

Sometimes, the captain doesn't notice until it's too late — and then — and only then — they want you to accelerate. But it's too little, too late. And when you tell them, they get mad.

WHAT DO YOU DO? My ADVICE:

Don't open up the throttle — but you should subtly 'click' it forward just enough where management doesn't notice (at first), but where you begin to catch up, pace, and sometimes pass the competition. Add a resource, accelerate the deadline, increase the scope a bit, start a small skunkworks in the basement — but do something.

Also — EVANGELIZE your perspective and strategy all the time. You might be ridiculed at first — but after the competition beats you — you can stand there with a huge 'I told you so' face. They might listen to you next time.

You might get into trouble if management ultimately uncovers what you're doing — but no one was ever fired for doing the right thing and taking a small chance to advance the company forward.

And if you are reprimanded or fired, it makes a great story to tell when interviewing with the competition!

P.S. This happens ALL THE TIME. Think of Kodak, Blockbuster, and Nokia to name a few. What others can you think of?