As you already know, I started my career in the technology world. My undergraduate degree is computer and systems engineering, with a concentration in manufacturing. It’s like a combination of computer programming and electrical engineering, with a little mechanical engineering for good measure.
A decent part of my career has been spent creating new things. Whether it’s a technology, a website, or a marketing strategy – I was working on some kind of new idea.
But, this is the thing. New ideas fail. They fail a lot. They’re risky.
So, how do you get technologists to take the risks that are needed in order to come up with new ideas?
There’s more than one answer to this question, but one practice is what’s known as “test and learn.” According to Wikipedia, the test and learn process is designed to answer three questions.
What impact will the program have on key performance indicators if executed across the network or customer base?
Will the program have a larger impact on some stores/customers than others?
Which components of the idea are actually working?
In other words, try something. See if it works. If it doesn’t work, adjust it and try something else. A CEO of Capital One, Richard Fairbank, described the test and learn process as, “a marketing revolution that can be applied to many businesses.”
So, what if that ‘business’ were actually your ‘job search’? What if you could start a job search without knowing all the answers? Or, you could go for an interview at a company without knowing for sure if you would take a job offer, if it was given?
When it comes to job searching, there’s not just one way to do it. There’s not one perfect elevator pitch or one right resume format. Thinking there’s one right answer will leave you frustrated to say the least.
Take a little pressure off of yourself. You don’t have to get it right the first time, or every time. But, if you don’t try at all, you’ll definitely fail.
If you give something a shot and it doesn’t work the way you want it to, adjust your approach. Then, try again. And, adjust your approach again, and try again. This is a never ending process.
I truly believe a test and learn approach might free us a bit from the idea of failure. And, it would give us more time to focus on landing that next job.
Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.
I love resumes. They’re a very important part of your job search. They allow you to brand yourself. You can feature your past work experience. A resume allows you to highlight accomplishments, such as awards and education. It allows you to share who are you, and who you want to be in a future career.
But, if you had one hundred hours to use on your job search, how exactly would you divide up your time?
Many job seekers would devote ninety-five percent of their time to their resume. It makes sense, right? If your resume is perfect, then you ought to get a job faster. Because, job fit is determined by experience. And, experience is outlined in your resume, right?
Well, sort of. But, not exactly. In reality, many job offers are determined by other factors – like who you know. Look back at your own resume and think about how you got each job. If you landed every job by applying online with the perfect resume, you’re an exception to the rule. Most people find jobs through other people.
Does that mean resumes don’t matter? No, they’re important. But, it does mean that you should update your resume and then move on to other job search activities. For example, spend more time researching the companies you want to work for. Devote time to meeting new people and networking with people you already know.
One of my most successful friends has a six page resume. For years, I’ve had a burning desire to update it and shave it down to two pages. But, before I have ever been able to get my hands on that resume, the friend has already landed a new job. He has both unique skills and a strong network of contacts. Most likely, his resume is a complete afterthought. It’s a formality. After a company has decided to hire him, he submits the resume to complete the hiring process. It’s simply a checkbox.
What’s the lesson in this? Is it that you should forget your resume completely? No. The resume remains an important part of your job search materials, along with your cover letter, your elevator pitch, and your LinkedIn.
But, your resume is not the ultimate destination. If you feel that your resume is high quality and you’re still not landing interviews, step back and look at the bigger picture. Take a look at your entire job search process. Aside from updating your resume, what else could you do?
Consider spending more time at networking events. Ask more friends to have coffee meetings with you. Connect to new people you want to know (but don’t yet know) on LinkedIn. Volunteer for nonprofit boards.
If you spend your time looking for ways to connect and to grow your professional network and your business skills, you will go much farther in your job search than if you stay behind your computer screen.
Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.
The holidays are here again. Along with the turkey, stuffing, and loved ones, there’s more to consider. This season is a time of giving thanks. One of the topics I’m often asked to speak about is personal branding. And, part of your personal brand comes across in the way that you say thank you to others. After you interview for a new job, it’s always a good idea to say thanks. For the most part, I think we can all agree on this idea. But, the question is really – how do exactly do you do it? What’s the best way to say thank you, and what are you saying thank you for?
Think of yourself as a salesperson. You’re selling your services. The company and the hiring manager – they are your customer. You may say, “But, Angela – I really put a lot of work into the interview. It was not easy on me at all.” I get that, and I don’t disagree with you. But, the hiring manager is still the customer, and they will ultimately make the decision on whether or not you’re hired. With that in mind, saying thanks is critical.
The very best solution is to two fold. First, send a thank you email the afternoon after your interview. Then, write a hand written note to drop in the mail. The company may make a decision quickly, so the email ensures your message will get there in time. The handwritten note however is the one that will make you really stand out from your competition. In all likelihood, you will be the only candidate who sent a handwritten note.
Each email and each handwritten note should be personal and sent to just one person. Ideally, send one to each person who interviewed you along the way. The note itself should be brief. You want to thank the person for interviewing you, and if possible, mention something from your conversation. But, stay positive. If you are afraid the interview went badly, this isn’t the time to bring it up. The most important thing is to say thanks.
During a presentation I recently gave on this topic, someone in the audience asked a great question. “In the age of the internet, is it really important to send something that’s handwritten?” The answer is yes. Hiring decisions are not made on the internet. They’re made in real life. People hire people. And, they hire people who they like. The more that you can remember this, the more you’ll increase your odds at landing a job offer.
An online thank you card doesn’t replace a hand written note. I’m sure you may remember the last time you received a hand written thank you note. You may even still have it somewhere. I know that I do. I appreciate these notes, and I keep them. So do other people – including hiring managers. They will keep your hand written message and it will influence them in both this decision, and in the future.
Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.
One of the favorite interview questions of hiring managers continues to be, “What is your biggest weakness?” This is a tough question all the way around. If you are too honest, you may eliminate yourself from consideration and not get the job at all. But, if you’re not honest enough, you may come across as evasive.
So, what can you do when you’re asked this question during a job interview?
The very first thing to do is prepare. There’s a good chance you will be asked this question, so think about it in advance. Write down how you might answer the question, and practice your answer. Share your thoughts with a friend (or two), and get feedback. Find out what you could do better, and put time into perfecting your response.
Don’t give an answer that is truly critical to the job. For example, if you are interviewing to be a project manager, don’t confess that you struggle with organization and are often late on deadlines. These qualities are key to succeeding as a project manager and would immediately eliminate you from consideration.
On the other extreme, don’t give an answer that is not genuine. Many job seekers tend to give answers along the lines of, “I just work so hard. I can’t stop myself.” Or, “I’m such an overachiever and I have high expectations of those around me.” These answers come across as not being authentic, and no hiring manager will want to hear them.
Instead, I like to think of this question as an opportunity to address the elephant in the room (assuming there is one). For example, I was once asked to consider a part time coaching role with a large organization. During the job interview, the hiring manager asked me, “What is your biggest weakness?”
This was my response. “As you know, I don’t come from a human resources background, like many coaches do. That may be considered a weakness in comparison. However, I have extensive corporate experience in many industries and many job functions – from engineering to marketing. I have interviewed for many different roles myself, and I’m able to bring my own authentic experience to the table to help job seekers do their best.”
In this case, my hiring manager already knew that I had not worked in human resources. It was clear from my resume. She was probably trying to decide whether or not this difference in my background was a problem. Because I brought the issue up directly, I was able to put it to rest quickly. It also gave me a chance to explain why my own unique experience would be an asset to the organization, and might even give me a leg up on my competition. My answer worked well and created space to talk openly about my background.
There’s no one right way to answer this question. In order to give your best answer, prepare in advance. It will allow you to turn your potential weakness into a perceived strength.
Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.
Episode 150 is live! This week, we talk with Jennifer Shappley in Nashville, Tennessee. I met up with Jennifer during the LinkedIn Talent Connect conference. LinkedIn hosted over 4K recruiters from over 2K companies from around the world.
Jennifer is the Senior Director of Talent Acquisition at LinkedIn in San Francisco, California. She has a long history in talent acquisition, with experience in both healthcare and financial services.
On today’s episode, Jennifer shares:
Why having a LinkedIn account will help you with your job search
Tips for optimizing your LinkedIn profile
How recruiters use LinkedIn when they’re looking for candidates
Mistakes job seekers make on LinkedIn and how to avoid them
To learn more about Jennifer, find her profile on LinkedIn. And, be sure you have your own LinkedIn profile!
Thanks to everyone for listening! And, thank you to those who sent me questions. You can send your questions to Angela@CopelandCoaching.com. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach. And, on Facebook, I am Copeland Coaching.
Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review!
Copeland Coaching Podcast | Episode 150 | Effectively Using LinkedIn – Jennifer Shappley, LinkedIn
Airdate: October 17, 2017
Welcome to the Copeland Coaching podcast. I’m your host, Angela Copeland. Here today with me in Nashville is Jennifer Shappley. Jennifer is the Senior Director of Talent Acquisition at LinkedIn in San Francisco. She has a long history in talent acquisition with experience in both health care and financial services. Jennifer, thanks for joining me today.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Thanks for having me, Angela.
ANGELA COPELAND: So it’s so nice to meet you. I happened to look at your LinkedIn profile before we got started, and I suspect that you may have also lived in Memphis before.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: I did. Yes. So coming back to Nashville is almost like coming home for me.
ANGELA COPELAND: So I live in Memphis. We didn’t chat very much before we got started.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: No, amazing, wow.
ANGELA COPELAND: And we have a bunch of common contacts, and I want to jump into the questions, but I’m curious, were you in Impact Memphis when you were in Memphis?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: I was. I was a really early member of Impact Memphis and I actually led what was then called the Promote Memphis pillar. So there were all these early pillars, and so I co-led that for several years.
ANGELA COPELAND: Oh, that’s cool. So I lived there from 2001-2004 and I left until 2006 and I think we maybe missed each other.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: We may have just—You were 2001-2004?
ANGELA COPELAND: And I came back in 2006.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yeah. That’s amazing. That creates some connections actually. I may remember your name.
ANGELA COPELAND: I think we may have worked at the same company but at different times.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: What a small world. I love to meet people from Memphis. That’s amazing, especially that worked with Impact.
ANGELA COPELAND: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, so we’re here at LinkedIn Connect, which is an annual LinkedIn event, and I’m really excited to talk to someone who does recruiting for LinkedIn and to talk to you about LinkedIn. So I cover from the job seeker side, and I’m curious, this is like such a given, but do you use LinkedIn for your recruiting at LinkedIn?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Surprisingly, we do, yes, so very heavy users of LinkedIn within the organization.
ANGELA COPELAND: Oh, that’s great. So one of the top questions I get from job seekers all the time, like, every day, is do I need to have a LinkedIn account? And I’d love to hear your perspective on that and why it’s so important.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yeah, you know, it’s funny, I get that question often from people too. Sometimes I take for granted, being such an active LinkedIn user, that some people still aren’t quite sure how it could benefit them. And I would encourage people to use it, no matter what industry they’re in. So I think sometimes people think, “I’m not in a corporate role. Is LinkedIn really the right place for me?” And while LinkedIn is an amazing platform for finding jobs and finding that career opportunity, it’s also an amazing place just to network and maintain those relationships. And so I feel like that’s important no matter what job you’re in. So when people are unsure about getting on the platform, I’m like, absolutely, get on there, network, engage. You’ll strengthen the relationships you have and you’ll build new ones.
ANGELA COPELAND: Totally. Well so another question specifically around the network portion that I get literally every day is, should I connect to strangers? Is it a bad thing if I connect to strangers? I can see both sides. What’s your perspective on that?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: I think that’s a personal preference for people. My take on it is, like, I will connect of course with people that I know personally, and I’ll connect with people where we have, maybe we don’t know each other, but we’ve got shared interests. Maybe it’s somebody that I feel like I could help because they’re in the HR recruiting field and they’re interested in learning more, or perhaps it’s somebody I think I could learn from. So I think there are reasons you might want to connect with people that you don’t personally know, but it’s everyone’s personal preference. Some people want to keep that network really small. The benefit of expanding your network and connecting with people that you maybe don’t even have that personal relationships is you start to magnify the power of being on LinkedIn. The broader your network, the broader your second and third degree network. There’s a lot of benefit that comes from that.
ANGELA COPELAND: I totally agree. I often tell people, if you want to meet new people, you have to connect to new people.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Absolutely. And where the platform has gone, it’s so much about digesting information. And so if you got more people in your network, you’re seeing more updates, you’re seeing what they’re sharing, and so it’s an opportunity for you to digest information that you might not otherwise have seen.
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. Well, so, when it comes to our profiles, say we’ve decided we’re going to get a LinkedIn account, we’re going to set it up. From the job seeker’s side, what are some of the things that it would be important for us to do that would help you on the recruiting side?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: So I think first and foremost is make sure you’ve got a built-out profile, and we’ve got built in to the platform now tips on what you need to fill out, so it’s going to prompt you. You don’t have a summary. Would you like us to help you write one? And so I encourage people to not let it just be this empty shell. If you’re going to be on there, put information about what it is that you’ve done, what your skills and interests are. Help people help you. If you’re putting on your profile what you’re interested in doing, whether it’s doing pro bono work or getting involved in a board or looking for a new job opportunity, the more information that you have on your profile, the better that your network can help you and the more likely you’re going to be found by that person who can either help you find that next job or connect you with an opportunity.
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. Well so, sometimes job seekers ask me, “Is it okay if I paste some things from my resume, if I say on the experience section underneath the description of what I did, would it be okay if I pasted in from my resume?” Do you have a perspective on that at all?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: I think absolutely it makes sense to paste stuff in from your resume. I think you might not want to bring everything over. I think, put it in bullet points, summarize, make it easy to digest, think about the format and how it’s going to look in that medium on your profile, but absolutely carry information over from your resume. If you’ve got a really strong resume that’s highlighting the skills that you have and the accomplishments that you’ve made, then don’t reinvent the wheel. Bring that information over into your profile.
ANGELA COPELAND: That makes me feel better. I like that perspective a lot, actually, because I think that if you’re delaying on a LinkedIn profile, it’s better to copy and paste than feel like you need to make something completely custom and then delay yourself doing it at all.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: .Exactly. It’s like, remove that barrier. If that is something that’s keeping you from creating a LinkedIn profile, because you’re like, “I didn’t really enjoy creating my resume the first time. I definitely don’t want to have to recreate something,” than import that over. Bring that information. For many people that’s where it starts. It’s just a way to digitize that static resume that’s sitting on your desktop somewhere and put it into your profile so that others can see it.
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. So I understand that a lot of your LinkedIn profile is searchable on the recruiter side. Are you searching for things like our headline? Are you aware of what particular components matter the most within the profile?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yeah, like what’s being indexed or searched. So when I or a recruiter are searching, we’re not necessarily saying, ooh, looking to pul it from this specific piece, but we’re searching on certain words or phrases that we’re interested in. It could be a skill set. It could be a job title. Where it jobs from, whether it comes from that title field or it comes from a reference in the summary you put in there, doesn’t matter as much. It just matters that you get found. And so I think being thoughtful about the words you use, don’t use just filler words, don’t use generic buzzwords. We see those everywhere. But really articulate what are the things that you have accomplished. Think about the information that you’re putting out there and put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes too. If I were hiring someone like me, what would I be looking for? And make sure those things are highlighted on your profile. That’s going to help you get found.
ANGELA COPELAND: Well so from the recruiter side, how do you decide when you’re helping a hiring manager to fill a certain position, and you go into LinkedIn, how do you decide what you’re going to search for, what you’re going to look for? As a recruiter, how do you know?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: So you think back to the old job description. We’re thinking through, like, what are the skills that are required or preferred? What is the experience that’s needed? Those are things that go into a search filter that a recruiter is using. So if I talk to a hiring manager and they say I need this person to have so many years of this kind of experience, then that’s what the recruiter is going to look for. There are other things like, if I’m sitting down with a hiring manager, yep, I’ve got this job description here, I understand what the basic requirements are, but I might also be interested in knowing who on your team is doing really well. Who have you hired that has really excelled in this job? Go to that person’s profile. I’m going to now look and see what was on their profile that I can use as a recruiter to help find somebody else like them? I also have tools where you can within a recruiter look and see, find more people like this. So in addition to creating searches off of the experience, skills that we’re looking for, there are also ways where we can say this profile was really successful. Maybe I want to find more people like that.
ANGELA COPELAND: That’s such an interesting point because as a job seeker I can go and look at profiles of other people, maybe who look on that team where I’m applying to work and maybe kind of see, are there any kind of factors? Do these people have certain things in their profile that I might want to pay attention to? If I have those skills, maybe I should hire those skills. That’s interesting. I also get a lot of questions, I have to say, over whether we should have a photo in our profile. And I have my own opinion, but should we have a photo in our profile?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: You absolutely should have a photo. One of the things that I find is, people have a photo, but then people want to know, like, does it need to be a professional headshot? How casual can it be? And they want to know, what is an appropriate photo? So first and foremost, you know, it’s something you’re comfortable putting your image out there, I recommend putting a photo out there. Then as far as does it need to be a corporate headshot or not, I encourage people to showcase the personality. I would keep it professional, but I see great shots of somebody, like, smiling, laughing, maybe it’s more of a side profile, and it really shows their personality and it showcases who they are. I think what type of photo you use these days, there’s a lot of variety in there.
ANGELA COPELAND: I totally agree. I think it’s really important. I get a lot of questions. People don’t want to put photos. They’re really uncomfortable, or occasionally I’ll see photos where the person has a friend in the photo with them or maybe they’re in like a prom dress looking kind of outfit at a party, or I’ve even seen people who use cartoons, and maybe the cartoon is a little more passable, I’m not sure. I just prefer a straight-on photo of your face, smiling, no one else.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Agreed. I think it’s best when it’s just you. What you’re portraying or putting out there for future employers or your network is yourself, so I would keep it as just you. I’ve had people ask about, like, pets and stuff, and I’m like, you know, if you work at Petco or something, there are companies that that’s part of your brand, and that might be something. Generally speaking, I would stick with make it of yourself, but depending on who you want to work for, who you are, what you’re aspiring to be, there’s opportunity for variety in there.
ANGELA COPELAND: I think that’s a very smart way to put it because it depends on what your target market it is.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yeah. Exactly.
ANGELA COPELAND: The likelihood that you are going to be working for a pet company like Petco is fairly small, but if you are—
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: If you are, if you’re a dog trainer, I mean, we have people with a variety of different backgrounds on LinkedIn, and so maybe you’re a dog sitter, and that makes sense, put it out there. So it’s just thinking about understanding your own personal brand, what you’re wanting to put out there, what you’re trying to attract, and doing something that’s authentic.
ANGELA COPELAND: As a job seeker, are there certain things that we could do on LinkedIn that would really impress you as a recruiter? Like, are there things that would make us stand out from other candidates that you can think of?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: I think people think a lot about their profile and building it out, and that is important, but what I love to see is people who are really thought leaders in their space, people who are just posting through updates or maybe publishing interesting insights into the field that they’re in. That is a great way to stand out, and so I know for a lot of people the shortform and longform publishing post is intimidating, worried about writing. That’s fine. Updates. Just posting information, sharing an article with a quick insight, those things can absolutely make you stand out. It shows that you’re engaged with your industry or with whatever you’re focusing on, and it allows you to show your thought leadership in a space. I think people, don’t underestimate the importance of that.
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. Well so as a job seeker I’m wondering if maybe on the flipside there are some things we should avoid that would sort of turn you off or just recruiters in general that would make the recruiter say, “Eh, I should pass on this person.” Are there certain things that we as job seekers are sharing that we should consider not sharing?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: I feel like times are changing and there’s not a hard line necessarily on what should be shared and what shouldn’t. In general, I would say stay away from saying negative things about your current employer or past employers, similar to the advice we might give someone going into an interview. Don’t get into a new interview and bash your past employers or anything like that. Focus on yourself and your own accomplishments, so I would avoid that. I think, like I said, there’s not a hard line. Don’t forget that you are, what you’re putting out there, whether it be on our platform or any platform, is available for, depending on your privacy settings, anybody to see, and certainly for future employers to see or future people that you connect with. And so again, just really think about what is the brand that you’re wanting to put out there. Is it something that you would feel comfortable with future employers seeing? And think about that before you post. But be open, be authentic. Don’t be afraid to have a healthy debate on the platform. I think there’s plenty of room for that. I would just primarily encourage people to think through, am I okay with somebody in the future seeing this if I maybe want to go work at their company?
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. I think of it a lot of times like not sharing something you might not want to share at a dinner party when you meet someone new, especially with, like, our tricky political environment right now. You might just want to keep that to yourself, or keep it on Facebook with some good privacy settings, but you just have to remember that you will be judged for what you say, and it’s important to know that, and it’s one thing if, say, you’re going to work for, like, a political organization or an organization that has to do with religion, then maybe you align yourself to that group, like the dog photo.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yeah. Yeah. It’s all about I think remembering that everything you put out there becomes a part of your brand, and what do you want your brand to be. And I think if you just think about that before you put that information out there, that’s probably the best advice I could give you.
ANGELA COPELAND: Yeah, absolutely. Well so one thing too that is interesting with LinkedIn and with the internet in general is that you can search for jobs in different cities. So another question I get pretty often, and I’ll just tell you kind of what I think, is, people will ask me, “Well, if I want to move to Dallas, could I just put that as my city?” I generally think that’s bad. I think you should be as honest as you can be, like if you don’t live in Dallas in that scenario. But as a recruiter, would you take note of that if someone had, like, the wrong city or the wrong location? Would it pop up for you?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: So we actually have made some changes recently that really help with this. Because I’ll have to share this podcast with a former coworker, because I remember a few years ago, prior to being at LinkedIn, people knew that I was an avid LinkedIn user, and so I would often get questions, and one of them was at the time, her son was interested in moving to a new city, and he wasn’t sure how to showcase that. So now, you don’t have to necessarily showcase this directly on your externally facing profile, but with our Open Candidates feature, you can indicate if you’re open to relocation, and you can share that so that recruiters can find it, which didn’t use to be possible. Now also, you can put it in your profile as well, so if you’re interested and want to put that out there, then I encourage people to do that, but for people who don’t want to broadcast to the world, you can indicate this now through Open Candidates.
ANGELA COPELAND: Oh, that’s interesting. So another scenario that comes up pretty often, right, is, LinkedIn is great in terms of finding the hiring manager. Honestly, one of the jobs that I had in Memphis, I found the Vice President of Digital Marketing. I was working in digital marketing, and I contacted him and asked him to have lunch with me, and eventually it led to a job offer. But I’m curious from sort of the recruiting perspective, how does the recruiting team in general typically feel when you have a candidate that kind of goes around your process and goes straight to the hiring manager directly? Does that make sense?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: So like does the recruiter feel bypassed?
ANGELA COPELAND: Is that a problem?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Generally speaking, certainly at LinkedIn, it’s not a problem. Organizations have probably different cultures and perspectives on things, so it’s hard to speak for all companies, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think our platform is about encouraging and building relationships and connections, and so if somebody already has a connection with a hiring manager or has an intro, a reason they want to reach out to them, I mean honestly, I think done right, that can be helpful in the process.
ANGELA COPELAND: That’s a good perspective. That’s nice feedback. If we do that, if we plan to do that, would you also encourage us to apply online as well and go through the normal process?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yes, absolutely, because at some point, you’re need to go through the application process, so likely if you reach out to a hiring manager, they’re going to one, maybe talk to you, but likely put you back into the process, put you in connection with the recruiter or send you a link to apply. You’re going to still need to go through that process. So honestly, if you’re the hiring manager, Angela, most likely what I’m going to do is I’ll go ahead and apply online and then say. “I just applied for this job. I also wanted to reach out,” maybe mention a shared connection or some piece of information that connects the both of us, but just wanted to let you know that I applied and I’m really looking forward to hearing back.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Because by doing that you’ve taken action yourself, you’ve made it easy for, if that hiring manager doesn’t even respond, they’ve seen that likely and they’re going to remember you, and they don’t have to come back and be like, “Can you please go through the application process?” You’ve done the action. You’ve taken the work on yourself, and you’ve just reached out and maybe put a little bit more recognition to your name. That’s the way I would approach it, and I think most people would not be bothered by that extra step at all.
ANGELA COPELAND: I love that, and a lot of candidates are afraid they’re going to offend someone, and so that’s really nice feedback, and I’m sure that it doesn’t always apply with every company, but it’s just helpful to know that it’s a possibility.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yeah, and I mean, obviously, recruiters are like anybody else. They want to be respected in the process. But that’s not bypassing anybody. That’s, look, I applied, I went through this process, but I just wanted to let you know how interested I am and I’m looking forward to talking to you. I think that’s very unlikely to ruffle any feathers.
ANGELA COPELAND: Is there anything—I guess this will probably be my last question—is there anything that we as job seekers could do to make your life easier, or is there anything we’re doing that makes your life harder? What should we keep in mind? Because if we’ve never worked in HR, recruiting, it’s hard to picture what we could do better as job seekers
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: The more information that you can provide, either on your profile or let’s jump to a phone screen interview when you’re talking to the recruiter, share as much as you can. Be able to articulate what are the accomplishments that you’ve made, what value you can add. Be the best advocate for yourself. The more you can share and help the recruiter understand why you are qualified and the best candidate for the role, helps the recruiter advocate for you further down the process. So don’t just come into an interview passive, waiting to see what the questions are. Think ahead in how you’re going to respond, what information you want to share. Again, think about branding. what is is that you want the recruiter to understand about you after this conversation? And come in prepared to share that. With that, listen. Don’t talk to the whole time. Sometimes people get so excited to talk, it’s hard for the recruiter to get their questions in. You get to the end of the interview, and the recruiter is like, “I only got through one of my five questions,” or whatever it is. And that’s not helpful, because the recruiter hasn’t been able to get all the information from you that they need. So I would be thoughtful ahead of time about what you want to get across, but make sure you’re listening and watching for cues from the recruiter so you’re giving them an opportunity to ask everything that they need in order to further advocate for you.
ANGELA COPELAND: Yeah, that’s a great, great point. I get questions a lot about, “Well, gosh, they already have my information in my resume. Why do I have to retell them?” And I’m like, “Well, they talk to a lot of people.” Also it’s important I think to talk about things in plain language, because you may be talking to someone who does a certain type of software development, and if they can’t explain what they do in a way that’s understandable and general, how are you supposed to help them? But that’s just my personal take on it.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Absolutely. I think back to doing public speaking workshops and stuff. The burden is not on the audience, it’s on you, as the communicator. So it’s not on the audience to decipher and make sense of what you’re telling them. It’s on you to communicate clearly in a way that they can understand, and so I think that applies really well to an interview too. The burden’s not on the recruiter to understand what it is that you’ve done and how this jargon applies to their role. It’s on you, the communicator, the candidate in this situation, to explain that in a way that they can understand.
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. So I think this question is obvious but I have to ask it: where can we go to learn more about you and your work?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: So, LinkedIn profile is a great place. So in addition to just the history and my work experience, I’ve also got there links to past presentations and other things that I’ve done, which is another thing I encourage your listeners to do. If you’ve spoken in the past, or you’ve got presentations, put those on your profile. It’s a great way to share more about yourself. But that’s the best place to go to learn a little bit more about me.
ANGELA COPELAND: Oh, that’s perfect. Well Jennifer, thank you so much for joining me today. This has been so helpful. It’s been great to meet you.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Thank you Angela.
ANGELA COPELAND: And thanks everyone for listening. Thanks to those of you who sent me questions. You can send me your questions at email@example.com. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach, and on Facebook, I’m “Copeland Coaching.” Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review.
Have you ever received a call from a headhunter or recruiter out of the blue? Sometimes, they’ll call your work phone and leave a voicemail you weren’t expecting. They’re recruiting for a new position. It’s one you haven’t heard about, but they want to speak to you. You don’t even know how they got your name, or your phone number. The recruiter says, “I have a new position I’m trying to fill. I wanted to reach out to see if you know anyone who might be interested.”
It’s always a strange call to receive because it’s such a surprise. If you’re like many people, you may start to run through the list of your friends ‘might be interested.’ But, here’s the thing. When the headhunter asks if you know someone who might be interested, they’re really asking if you might be interested. It’s a polite way of asking if you would want to be interviewed for the job. They only want to know if you have a friend if you aren’t interested.
Once you realize the real question, you’ll probably try to decide which response you want to give. You may initially want to say you aren’t interested. You aren’t looking for a job right now. Things are just fine at work. Or, if you are looking, you may want to say no because you don’t have enough information. You haven’t seen a job description. You don’t know how much the job pays or where it’s located. You don’t know much about the company.
But, when you aren’t looking for a job can often be the perfect time to find one. It means that things at your current job are probably going pretty well. And, if that’s the case, you’ll have more leverage if you do land a job offer. You won’t feel pressured to take something that’s not the right fit if you have a job that’s going just fine.
Still not sure if the job is for you? The best way to find out is to have the interview. When the recruiter asks if you know anyone, let them know that you would like to learn more. You would be interested to speak with the hiring manager. Then, before you interview, ask for the job description and research the company. During the interview, ask questions to learn more.
Very often, job seekers tell me that they don’t want to waste the company’s time. If the job didn’t end up being the right fit, they would feel guilty. But, why? The company will interview many candidates who won’t end up being the right fit. But, they wouldn’t know who to hire if they didn’t interview them. How is going to an interview any different? And, how will you know whether or not a job is for you if you don’t learn more?
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard is this: “Always take the first interview.” You really never know where it might lead you.
Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.