It’s party time! Chances are, you may have a holiday party coming up for work or with friends that you just can’t avoid. Whatever the occasion, these parties can be draining. This is especially true for those of us who are introverts, or who have other commitments. It can feel like there’s just no room for another to do on the list.
But, if you’re planning to be on the job market next year, holiday parties can truly be the perfect place to kick off your search. Where else will you find such a large group of warm, friendly people in one room together? They’re typically friends you haven’t seen in a while, who genuinely want to know how you’re doing and what you’re up to. And, they’re often looking to reconnect again outside of the event.
Holiday parties are also often very cost effective as they are typically free and at the most, may only require a small host gift or a bottle of wine.
The best part is, you don’t have to wear a suit. And you don’t usually need to deliver your elevator pitch from scratch. You’ll know most people, or a friend will likely introduce you. Conversations will be easier, more interesting, and less forced than a typical networking event.
To truly make the most of your holiday parties this year, plan ahead. Try to get enough rest in advance and be ready to share the latest news in your life. Share personal updates, including changes in your family, your home, or your work. But, do your best to keep your news positive. Holiday parties are meant to be a festive occasion and should focus on the good things going on in your life.
If forced conversations feel difficult, think of a list of questions in advance. Ask how their family is doing. Ask if the friend has any plans to travel or take a vacation soon. Ask about common hobbies and interests.
Remember to bring business cards – and to exchange them with other guests when (and if) it seems appropriate. This will help you to stay in touch with new friends and update your contact information for old ones. If you’re not currently working, a simple card will do. Include your name, phone number, and email address.
After the event, make a point to follow up with the folks you want to stay in touch with. Invite them to your next party. Ask them to have lunch or coffee. And, be sure to connect on LinkedIn.
These small interactions build your friendships and grow your network. When the New Year comes, you’ll be more prepared to put your best foot forward. And, if you do ask a friend for help with a job application, it won’t be the first time they’ve seen you in a while. Build your network of friends when you’re not asking for help with a job.
Have you ever had to do extra work in a job interview? One of my most intense interviews ever was at Target. I interviewed there after graduate school for a project management role. The process was unlike one I had ever seen up to then.
Target flew me into Minneapolis one evening, with a day of interviews to follow. The day itself is a blur now. So much happened in a relatively tiny amount of time.
I had multiple individual interviews. They happened back to back in a small room. One person would come in and interview me. They’d leave and then another person would come in. This happened around four times in a row. It was back to back with no real breaks.
Then, the human resources manager took me to lunch. It was right next door. And, it wasn’t any kind of lunch. It was a lunch interview. I had to be on my game.
After lunch, I was taken to another business nearby. There, I took an IQ test that was very much like the SAT you might have taken to get into college. There was a math portion and a verbal portion. It was a lot do to after five interviews.
But, the fun didn’t end there. Next, I was met by a psychologist. The psychologist administered a psychological exam.
After it was over, I remember stretching out in the back seat of a cab on my way back to the airport. I was exhausted. I’d never had such an intense interview.
This sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. But, do you know what else it is? It’s an attempt at a fairer interview process.
No interview is unbiased. Some people perform better in an in person interview. Others do better on a test. Allowing the candidate to be tested in multiple ways is a good way to reduce the likelihood of an unfair process.
In fact, my favorite interviews are the ones with the most work. I like it when you write a proposal for the manager, to show them what you will bring to the table. I feel like it gives you a chance to sell yourself. It gives the manager a chance to truly measure your abilities. And, it reduces your risk of a mismatch.
The next time you’re put through a long and difficult interview process, remember this. The process is likely more fair than if the hiring manager met you and quickly decided. If you get the job, it’s more likely to be a better fit for you.
You may also be wondering whatever happened at Target. I got the job offer and the company was so nice that they sent me flowers to congratulate me. Target was a truly amazing company. I didn’t end up taking the job, but I took away the importance of a thorough interview process.
183 | LinkedIn & Job Searching | Dan Shapero, Dan is the Vice President of Talent Solutions, Careers & Learning at LinkedIn
Episode 183 is live! This week, we talk with Dan Shapero in Anaheim, California.
Dan is the Vice President of Talent Solutions, Careers & Learning at LinkedIn.
On today’s episode, Dan shares:
- Exciting news about LinkedIn’s acquisition of employee engagement platform Glint and what it could mean for your workplace
- Tips on using LinkedIn when you’re a job seeker
- An answer to the important question: Should you accept connection requests from people you don’t know on LinkedIn
To learn more about LinkedIn and Dan’s work, check out the LinkedIn website: https://www.linkedin.com.
Thank YOU for listening! If you’ve enjoyed the show today, don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts! When you subscribe, it helps to make the show easier for other job seekers to find the show!
I’ve been talking to a number of job seekers lately about illegal interview questions. They keep coming up, and I keep asking myself why that is. When you’re a job seeker, you may not realize how common illegal questions are because you’re interviewing for only one or two jobs at a time. But, surprisingly, they’re popping up in job interviews quite a bit.
Common illegal questions include: What is your marital status? How many children do you have? Are you planning to have more children? How old are you?
Honestly, it’s hard to understand why these questions are coming up. I have wondered how hiring managers don’t seem to know what not to ask. And, I’ve wondered why they’re even asking at all.
In some cases, the hiring manager may be simply trying to make small talk. They may be trying to get to know you. But, it’s really hard to say. In some cases, the hiring manager is clearly asking the question for unethical reasons. But, in other cases, someone may have been trying to make casual conversation and may have unknowingly stumbled into murky waters.
So, why does it keep happening? My best guess is this. Hiring managers are rarely trained on what not to ask. Human resources often assumes that in today’s day in age, we all know what not to ask. Then, when the hiring manager does ask these questions, the candidate doesn’t react negatively. The reason is this. If you want the job, you don’t get upset by a potentially off-putting question. That’s a fast way to eliminate yourself from the candidate pool. So, the hiring manager gets no feedback in the moment. After the hiring process, if you’re not selected, you have little to no interaction with the company. You are at times lucky to get an automated rejection email for your time.
What’s a company to do? I propose that companies should install a system to solicit feedback from candidates. This would close the loop on hiring. The company could ask the candidate for anonymous feedback about their interview. It could then be routed to human resources who could be alerted to potential issues in questions. This would protect the company’s interests, educate the hiring manager, and improve the experience for the job seeker. It’s a win-win-win.
One company that is implementing something similar to this process is Amazon. After a candidate interviews with Amazon, they receive an anonymous survey titled “rate our phone interviews.” The survey asks whether or not the interview experience was frustration free. It also asks for what they could do to improve, and it gives the job seeker a free form text box to provide feedback.
Implementing this sort of feedback treats the job seeker like a valued player in the process – similar to a customer. And, this is a great foundation of mutual respect on which to build a future working relationship.
When I was in college, I never joined a sorority. But, like you, I’ve heard some of the horror stories about what it can sometimes be like to become part of Greek life. For some (but not all) student led organizations, hazing rituals are just a part of life. Looking back, it seems like they’re a silly college-aged tradition that have been left in the past. Somehow, these rituals are following us into adulthood. They’re showing up in the most unexpected place: the job interview.
Some employers put candidates through stress interviews. They ask inappropriate or irrelevant questions in an effort to get a reaction from the job seeker. They’re interested to see how you might react under stress. The answer often matters less than the reaction. I recently heard from a job seeker who was cursed at during a job interview in a confrontational way – in front of a group. The hiring manager was trying to get a reaction out of him.
Other employers are asking candidates to do homework, lots of homework. It may come in the form of creating plans that the company may use. It may involve taking tests. Many of these tools are meant to help identify the most capable candidates. But, it often discounts the work experience a candidate has in favor of how well they perform under pressure on a particular day.
In other situations, employers may put the candidate through physical stress. Perhaps they’re booked with back to back travel and interviews with no time for bathroom breaks or rest.
The most surprising interview trend I’ve seen lately that falls into this category is company-wide voting. Did you know that if you interview at a company, there’s a chance that the company’s employees will vote on whether or not they liked you, just after you leave the building? It might be one thing to ask folks if they have concerns with a candidate and if they do, what those concerns are. But, in some organizations, employees are given a simple yes or no choice. If anyone votes against a candidate, there’s a decent chance they will be kicked out of the process.
With all of this comes a note. I’ve heard of these practices more within the tech world than anywhere else. So, if you have an important corporate interview coming up, don’t fear. There’s a decent chance that you will not be exposed to most of these tactics.
On the flip side, I do understand that when you’re the job seeker, you should be willing to go along with most of the things a company asks of you – especially if you want the job. But, if a company treats you badly in the interview process, don’t forget it. That may be how the plan to treat you as an employee. If the job interview process seems immature, it’s possible the staff may be too.
When it comes to job interviews, I’ve seen it all. Most interviews come in a fairly straight forward format. You do a phone screen with human resources and then a phone interview with the hiring manager. Afterward, you come in person for meetings with the hiring manager and other folks on the team.
But, not every interview is so simple. Some companies ask job seekers to do a presentation about themselves. Others ask you to complete an IQ test. And, some ask you to create a proposal of how you would spend your first ninety days if you were hired. And, then every once in a while, a company will ask you, “What kind of salad dressing best emulates your life philosophy?”
I know this must sound like a joke. But, no, I’m not kidding. Companies will ask questions such as, “If you were a sandwich, what kind of sandwich would you be?” and, “What font best describes your personality?”
These types of questions can serve a few purposes. First, they can test how you react under pressure. Are you able to roll with the punches, even when you’re asked something outside of the box? They can also test you from a culture fit perspective. Do you answer in a way that is in line with the company culture? And, they can test your creativity. How interesting, thoughtful, and unique is your answer?
Although questions like this really make no sense to many people, I can get behind them under one condition. That condition is that the interview process is a two-way street.
If the job seeker is going to go along with your crazy line of questions, then you in turn (the hiring manager) should treat the candidate with an equal amount of respect. If they’ve put in a lot of time doing homework as part of your process, take the time to follow through with them – even if it’s a little more work. Interview them when you say you will. Respond to their emails. And, if you don’t select them, let them know quickly and in a respectful manner.
The part about this type of process that I do not like is when the entire thing is a one-way street. If a candidate is going to play along with this sort of line of questioning, the company should be prepared to be respectful in return. This is especially true if the candidate has put in a significant amount of time into the application process.
Ghosting a job seeker or taking weeks and weeks to follow up on email communications is not acceptable. It’s no way to treat any potential employee or future representative of your company. When you treat the job search like a joke, you’re treating the candidate as if they are disposable. And, they will likely feel the same about you in return. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
I recently had the opportunity to attend LinkedIn’s annual human resources event: Talent Connect. Held in Anaheim, California, the event showcased everything LinkedIn’s been working on in 2018, and their plans for the future. It’s always a great educational event. The information presented ranged from what they’re doing for job seekers with their applicant tracking system — to how they’re helping companies to expand their online learning systems with LinkedIn Learning (formerly known as Lynda.com). They also announced the acquisition of an employee engagement platform: Glint.
Dan Shapero, Vice President of Talent Solutions at LinkedIn, announced the purchase on stage, alongside Glint CEO, Jim Barnett. Glint’s mission is to “help people be happier and more successful at work.” The technology is expected to help answer tough HR questions, including: the overall health and performance of the organization, where to find new talent, and if the capabilities of the team are aligned to the business needs.
“With LinkedIn’s insights into the larger workforce alongside Glint’s internal view into employee engagement and skills, we will be able to help talent leaders answer all those difficult questions,” said Shapero. “Glint provides executives with the tools to answer questions about the health and happiness of the talent they have, while giving managers at all levels the access and insight they need to improve.”
Glint’s technology encourages companies to regularly gather employee feedback on work, culture, and leadership. And, it provides those insights back to the leadership team to make informed decisions. This is great news for employees and managers alike.
After all, replacing employees is expensive. And so often, employees aren’t leaving to make more money. They’re leaving because they’re unhappy, or they want more career growth. A solution like Glint may help companies to solve these problems for employees before it’s too late.
As I think back on my experience at LinkedIn Talent Connect, there’s one theme that really shines through. It’s undeniable just how integrated LinkedIn is becoming into each and every one of our professional lives – from the beginning to the end.
Ten years ago, LinkedIn was a simple networking website. Today, it’s a collection of technologies that travel with us through our entire career journey. We use LinkedIn to research where we want to work using their company reviews. We monitor and apply for jobs on LinkedIn. We estimate how much money we should be making using LinkedIn Salary. Once we’re working at a company, we stay in touch with our colleagues there. We use LinkedIn for referrals and references. We use the site as a continuing education resource. We even throw away our business cards because we know we can use LinkedIn instead.
And now, companies are using LinkedIn to find out how they can be better employers for their employees. Regardless of where you are in your career journey, one thing’s for sure. LinkedIn is likely a part of your everyday professional life.
Sometimes, you want to feel like your work means something. You want to feel like a person who is performing a craft. You want to feel like a professional. Somehow, looking for a job can make you feel like a discount item on a shelf at a big box store.
The salary is an area where companies have lost their way. During your first phone call with a company’s HR department, the recruiter will ask you how much money you make – or how much you want to make. Recruiters will tell you that they’re simply trying to understand whether or not you’re inside their budget.
But, this is the thing. Companies have a wide band they can pay employees. Asking this question is like a game of chicken, where the company is hedging their bets to try to get a good deal. But, how much are they saving on this exercise? Is it worth the cost of upsetting and candidate?
Years ago, I shopped for a new car. I went to a typical car dealership where I was treated like prey. Then, I went to a Saturn dealership. Saturn was a completely different experience. There was no negotiation. There was no pressure. If the car worked for you, it was yours. If not, no problem. Despite that Saturn no longer exists, ask anyone who owned one what the experience was like, and you’ll find out just how positive it was.
Along similar lines, Glassdoor.com recently revealed that a ten percent pay increase only raises the likelihood of employee retention by 1.5 percent. So, what does this mean?
It means that employees are looking for the right job. They aren’t looking for the highest paying. They’re looking for fit. And, a lot of fit comes in the form of feeling like you’re treated with respect. Asking salary right out of the gate is the very opposite of respect, and it diminishes you and your work experience down to a price tag – one number.
The good news is, certain states and some cities are beginning to outlaw questions about your pay history. These laws are changing quite a bit, so you’ll want to look at what’s fair game in your area. But, the good news is that these new laws are shedding light on this important issue. Asking pay history can mean that if you’re underpaid today, you’ll continue to be underpaid in the future. Some companies are getting rid of the work history question completely, as the laws are changing.
But, it won’t stop them from asking how much you want to make. Before you answer this question, do your research. Although it doesn’t feel like it, answering this question in the first call can weaken your negotiation power later.
Perhaps in the future, companies will begin to share their budget first. It would allow you to focus on fit, and ensure companies are paying everyone fairly.
Have you ever had someone tell you that it’s a good idea to get your foot in the door at a company? The theory is that if you get your foot in the door, you can work your way up over time. I understand the reasoning. It’s a career outlook that has been around for a long time. But, in today’s career environment, this approach can backfire.
Many companies no longer prioritize promoting from within. Employees switch jobs so quickly that employers are typically focused on new talent coming in. And, there’s a tendency for the company to want you to show up with all of the right experience. They’re less interested to train you, or to move you into a new department. They want you to be productive on day one, so they can get the most out of you before you leave two years later.
This isn’t the rule, and it doesn’t apply to all industries. However, this new outlook brings up some interesting. In the past, job seekers may have been willing to take a lower paycheck now in hopes of getting a substantial raise at a later time. But, on average, companies now only give employees two to four percent raises each year.
This means that you should try to start off where you want to be. If you’re underpaid today, you’ll be underpaid next year and the year after.
As the economy has tightened and the unemployment rate has fallen, wages have not grown as much as economists predicted. Hopefully, higher wages are just around the next corner. But, there’s something to keep in mind. As long as companies can pay less, they will.
When you are evaluating a job offer, don’t assume you’ll have to take a pay cut. Don’t assume the new company won’t pay you more than you currently make. Do your research. There are a number of online sources where you can find salaries for an industry, a region, and even at specific companies by titles. Check out sites like Glassdoor.com, Indeed.com, and Salary.com to find out what your role pays in today’s market.
If you accept a job that pays less than market value, you’re doing a disservice. You’re doing a disservice to yourself and to everyone else in your industry. Accepting a job at less than the market rate is a signal to the company that it’s okay to underpay workers. It’s a signal that you aren’t valued as an employee. It says that you’re okay making less. And, it undercuts your competition.
So, what should you do? First, do your research. Find out what the going rate is for your job. Then, don’t just interview for one job at a time. Try to interview for multiple jobs, so you’ll have more than one choice, and competitive offers. The sooner we each stop taking less than we’re worth, the sooner we will all benefit.
Episode 182 is live! This week, we talk with Bart R. McDonough in New York, NY.
Bart is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Agio. Agio is a managed IT and cybersecurity firm serving the financial services, healthcare, and payments industries.
On today’s episode, Bart shares:
- Why cybersecurity jobs are on the rise
- The types of jobs available in the cybersecurity industry
- Who may want to consider transitioning into cybersecurity
- How to switch into cybersecurity
To learn more about Agio work, visit Bart’s website at https://agio.com/.
Thank YOU for listening! If you’ve enjoyed the show today, don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts! When you subscribe, it helps to make the show easier for other job seekers to find it!