Sunday, February 26, 2017

Why I Love Cold-Calling Hiring Managers

Many successful job hunters talk to hiring managers informally to find out what problems need fixing before they apply for a job. They establish rapport sell their experience and skills at solving those problems. Cold-calling is a good way of making direct voice contact to have the discussion. It isn't the only way, but it is a proven, effective way.

Certainly some people have greater knowledge of how to engage in cold-calling than others. But many people who were never trained in the skills, like me, have learned through good coaching and lots of practice. Cold-calling requires script preparation, skills development, the right mental attitude, and the commitment to practice and try. It is one of the most effective ways of getting hired.

What I like about cold-calling is this:

It Works – It establishes rapport with the hiring manager. It enables identification of the hiring manager's specific needs and provides an opportunity to showcase how you can help. It generates interest.

It Enables You to Edit Your Resume and Cover Letter – Armed with the reasons why the job is open enables editing your resume to be responsive to the hiring managers' hot buttons. It also makes writing your cover letter a 'walk in the park'.

It Gives You the Competitive Advantage – Cold-calling demonstrates you are willing to do what others won’t. You are different from the others. Differentiation creates competitive advantage.

It Trains You for Interviewing – Skills learned in cold-calling have huge benefits for interviewing. You learn to be quick on your feet and maintain composure under stress. Nothing sharpens communication skills like cold calling.

It Builds Confidence – Rejection to cold-calling is not uncommon and should not be taken personally. What you learn from rejection is how to become better at cold-calling and interviewing.

It Builds Your Network – Networking is critically important. I believe 'Who you Know' may not be as important as 'Who needs to know You'. Everyone you speak to is an addition to your network. They may know of other positions you might fit.

It Identifies Hidden Jobs – Cold-calling is useful for identifying unadvertised opportunities. Some people identify a company they would like to work for without knowing if a job exists. They use cold-calling to identify needs and generate a hiring manager’s interest. Sometimes that exposes hidden jobs.

It Enables Follow-Up Opportunities – Cold calling creates follow-up opportunities. Sometimes now is not the right time, but sometime in the future may be.

It Trains You for Warm-Calling - Warm-calling to hiring managers you were referred to uses the same skills as cold-calling. 

The takeaway is this: If your job search is not making progress and you are looking for alternatives ways of searching, seriously consider cold-calling. Be willing to learn and practice alternatives to camping on job boards. Think of cold-calling as an informal way of speaking with a hiring manager, not as a quasi-interview. Don't think of cold-calling as a hard sell technique. Hard selling is likely to create a negative reaction. Making calls in an informal manner without pressuring the hiring manager leads to success. Handled correctly even the most adamantly opposed managers can be won over. Learning and practicing are key.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Skip the job ad, what does the hiring manager REALLY need done?

Do you wonder why your job search is not getting results? There are many possible answers and sometimes it's a combination of things. Let's talk about the resume you submitted. That is completely within your control.

Your resume is an advertisement and should be written like one.

Sure, it's about you, but it's also about what the buyer needs. In this case there's only one buyer, the specific hiring manager of the job you are applying for. So make sure you understand his or her pain, the problems that need to be solved.

Studies show that resumes that win interviews are focused on the hiring manager's needs, not the candidate's. That's just logical isn't it? In your advertisement, write about the results of your work that are relevant to the hiring managers' needs by focusing on the results of your work, preferably quantified. Write about how the things you did helped the company you worked for.

Since the key is the hiring manager, not some company recruiter who is not the decision-maker, why not turn the hiring process around? Find out who the hiring manager is and speak directly to him or her before submitting your resume. This gives you the opportunity to edit your resume to be responsive to the specific hiring managers' needs. In other words, edit your resume for each position you apply to. Yes, that's a lot of work, but if you don't do it, your competition will.

My most successful clients follow this process. Does it always work? No. But it beats applying first and hoping for results. There are several reasons why it works:

It establishes a rapport with the hiring manager.
It demonstrates initiative and action.
It enables editing the resume to properly focus on the needs of the job.
It makes enables focusing a cover letter on the conversation with the hiring manager.
It achieves competitive advantage.

The savvy job seeker will try to reach out to the real hiring manager before applying for the job.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Approaching 40? It's time for a reality check.

Recently I was talking with a near-forty year old who lamented why it was difficult for him to attract interest as a worthy candidate for new jobs. He had many credentials and expertise, plenty of experience and excellent work results, but was told by recruiters that he was 'too expensive'. Why was this happening? Why wasn't his experience worth it to other companies? Why was he being treated like a 60 year old? Why were companies hiring new grads that would leave them in a year and not maintain a cadre of older, experienced people to provide stability to their company?

As I listened I thought to myself how many times I hear this. I said, "Welcome to the real world. Your questions are valid and are asked by many. Age discrimination is not a new phenomenon. It's been around forever. In fact, listen to your own comment comparing yourself to "60 year olds". That was probably an unconscious remark, but it is discriminatory. The reality is "too old, too young, too expensive" age discrimination applies to all age groups and it is just sinking in that it applies to you."

And I cautioned him that his "60 year old" comment was just half of the problem. It reflects negative perception of the value of older people, a perception that is shared by many people regarding those 40 years old and older. The other half of the problem is the real cost of doing business, the fact that keeping cost down is essential to profitability. Certainly it is short-sighted to preferentially hire new grads if it's necessary to replace and train their replacements a year later, but the pressure of near-term costs often sways logical thinking. And not all young people view job hopping as the way to success, so it is discriminatory to view them that way. The fact is it is prudent to employ both young and old.

So what do you do when you approach 40 and beyond? The answer is don't focus on what seems (and is) unfair to you.

Accept reality and focus on the benefits you offer to an employer!

Realize your resume is only an advertisement used to get interviews. It should be written to reflect the benefits of hiring you in a compelling way. It will compel a response only if it triggers interest, specifically that what you have accomplished, the results of your work, are directly relevant to whatever problem the hiring manager needs to resolve.

Extraneous, irrelevant information is of little interest to the hiring manager so leave it out. Focus the resume on the specific needs of the hiring manager. This means ensuring you know what the real needs are so you can edit your resume to be responsive to the needs of each position you apply for. Needs are not always accurately described in a job description. Often job descriptions are boiler plate copies of past positions.

Speak to the actual hiring manager directly to find out what his or her key pain is.

Then edit your resume and submit it. That's a lot of work, but if you don't do it, you can be assured one of your competitors will establish the competitive advantage of having spoken to the hiring manager before submitting a resume.

Don't advertise your age.

Avoid making it easy for people to guess your approximate age when writing your resume. Eliminate dates and positions that go back more than 10 to 15 years. Your older work is far less relevant than your recent work. With time, technology changes, processes change, approaches change.

The fact that you earned a degree in 1962 is not what's important. Leave the date off! The fact that you demonstrated the intelligence and perseverance to get the degree is.

Your age will become apparent when you are in a face-to-face interview, but you need to get to the interview table as your first priority. Once someone brings you in they have decided to invest the time to talk to you. You may not get the job, but you have no chance if you can't get to the table.

"And there's more!" he said.

Here's some more about reality and it is not intended as an advertisement, but as sound advice. Job searching is difficult enough without learning how to deal with technologies that have changed hiring processes such as ATS. You cannot be expected to stay current with the changes when you are not involved with them day-to-day. Resume writers are involved and deal with people of all ages. An investment in their services is worthwhile, particularly as you reach the point of needing to deal with age discrimination.

Make a decision to focus on the things that will get you to the interview table, not on the things you cannot control!

Karl Liechty is a published resume writer and job search skills coach and an authority on writing resumes that are compatible with Applicant Tracking Systems. If you like this post, please share it so others may see it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What is NOT said is often more important than what is.

Rowan Atkinson made a career in comedy out of body language. He seldom spoke - didn't have to. His facial expressions and body language said it all.

There's much more to interviewing than talking. Try shaking your head 'yes' while saying 'no'. You have to think about it while you're doing it. Thinking about what your body is saying is extremely important when you are interviewing.

There are times when you can use body language quite effectively, such as when you are negotiating salary. And there are times when it can betray you. Your body language can speak volumes about you or your real thoughts. It's often an unconscious knee-jerk reaction that can affect the outcome of the interview.

For instance, good eye contact is essential in any face to face communication. It expresses interest in what the other person is saying, being attentive, and being open.

Facial expressions, a smile, grimace, frown, raised eyebrow, or an eye shrug all express many different thoughts, reactions, and characteristics of you, while an expressionless face cannot be easily 'read', as in poker. It leaves the other person unsure of how to 'read' you. Lack of expression coupled with complete silence is often used to gain advantage in negotiations.

An eyebrow flash, quickly raising and lowering both eyebrows, can be a signal of positive interest.

Mirroring the other person's expressions body language helps foster feelings of trust and empathy, or feelings of affirmation.

Forming the fingers into a pointed roof shape, often signals elevated thinking or arrogance.

Positioning the head (and nose) slightly upward conveys superiority or arrogance.

Slightly lowering the head and stance suggests inferiority or submissiveness.

Fidgeting indicates nervousness.

While seated, leaning forward indicates positive interest, leaning back indicates confidence or over-confidence, while slouching indicates disinterest or lack of attention.

Folding arms or adjusting clothing can form a defense or pose a barrier between people.

These are just a few elements of body language worthwhile studying and practicing before interviews. There are many others. A very comprehensive compilation can be found in a good article found on "Psychology Today" here.

Do you have some other examples? Please share them. 

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