Friday, October 9, 2015

Why references really matter

Written by: Eric Garlinger, Executive Recruiter, CFS Grand Rapids
Anyone considering a job change knows that at some point they will need to provide references to a potential new employer. They also realize that before any job offer is made, those references will be contacted. What many candidates glaze over is the importance of the reference’s feedback and who the best references actually are. 
Before you throw 3-4 names and phone numbers at a company, you need to think about what you are providing and what the company is hoping to accomplish by contacting these people. A mediocre reference will say, “Yes, Joe was a good employee, and these were his main responsibilities.” A great reference will give you a raving review. This person sells your attributes and tells a company why you are great person to hire. So when you think about references, be selective and particular about whom you choose.
The people that companies want to speak with are former or current supervisors/managers or people you indirectly report to but can provide great feedback. Try to avoid coworkers at the peer level and definitely avoid friends and family. However, if you have managed or mentored someone in the past and built a solid relationship with that person, they can speak to your leadership and managerial capabilities. If this applies, strongly consider using that person.
If companies have two or more candidates they are considering for a position, strong references can help push you forward in their process. You should stay in touch with your references, especially if they are from a position you had 10 years ago. If you near the end stages of an interview process and suspect reference checks will happen soon, reach out to your references. Let them know details about the position, that they will likely be contacted soon, and how important raving feedback is. Keeping someone in the loop is a great way to stay in touch, and it lets you have as much control over the situation as possible.
All this information isn’t rocket science, but it’s still crucial to know. As a person who regularly performs reference checks, I believe that the importance of this step is often overlooked, and the benefit of putting your best foot forward is underemphasized.

We love to hear your questions and insight, so please comment below! You can also reach out to one of our expert recruiters. Find the closest CFS office to you here. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Interview Like a Pro Series: What you do after the interview

"Interview Like a Pro" is an ongoing series written by Tatiyana Cure, Executive Recruiter, CFS New York

The interview may be over, but you are not quite done! You still need to write your thank you note. Some may argue that it’s best to write a hand written note, but I don’t agree.
I’ve had candidates who decided to only send a hand-written thank you note after their interview. When I followed up with the Hiring Manager a few days after, the only feedback against hiring the candidate was that there was no follow up email received. The hiring manager received the hand written thank you card after extending an offer to someone else, and unfortunately it was too late to change anything. 
The ideal timeframe for the delivery is approximately 24 working hours after the interview, which is unrealistic to expect from the post office. I bring up the working hours point because if you interview on a Friday and decide to write your thank you note over the weekend, hold off on sending it until mid-Monday. The likelihood of it being overlooked increases if it is sent before or after-hours. Keep in mind that it’s also inappropriate to send a thank you email too early. You shouldn’t be sending the email as you’re getting on the elevator from the interview.
The point of the thank you email is to restate your interest and what you would bring to the table, but that’s not the only purpose. Put yourself in the Hiring Manager’s shoes: in addition to your daily responsibilities, you are tasked with reviewing hundreds of resumes, conducting multiple rounds of interviews, comparing candidates against each other who interviewed a week apart, making decisions on who to bring back, and your boss just appointed you lead in a new project. You’re ready to extend an offer to the top candidate, but then your boss schedules an emergency meeting to discuss a pressing matter. You put the offer letter aside hoping to get back to it by the end of the day, which doesn’t happen because your spouse calls to ask about dinner and you realize you’re late to pick up your kids from daycare. 
The second reason for the thank you email is to remind the hiring manager that their workload will be alleviated if they bring on the top candidate to join their team. I’ve had hiring managers who identified the top 2 candidates and could extend the offer to either one. What did the decision come down to? Who wrote the best thank you email!
On the flip side, an offer was withheld based on the thank you email because it misspelled the names of the firm and the hiring manager. Remember, this email is supposed to assist you in rising above the competition, not the opposite! Double-check your spelling and grammar before you send.
If you have not heard back from the hiring manager within the time frame discussed, it is appropriate to follow up. Most candidates will send a follow up e-mail, but if you choose to pick up the phone and speak with the Hiring Manager, I assure you that you’ll stand our amongst the competition.
Have more questions about interviewing? Please comment below, or contact a CFS office located near you to speak with a recruiter!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

When a recruiter invites you to connect on LinkedIn...

Written by: Eric Garlinger, Executive Recruiter, CFS Grand Rapids
Most recruiters use LinkedIn to varying degrees as a tool to stay connected to top talent and successful professionals- that’s no secret. Regardless of the business or industry, most people are connected in some way to both independent and corporate recruiters that specialize in your industry. This begs the obvious question that many people have, “A recruiter wants to connect with me, but what does that mean?”
While I can’t speak for every recruiter and their intent, it’s worthwhile to shed a little light on the subject so that you, the hard working business professional, can look at this as a benefit rather than an annoyance. Here are the 3 categories that most every person will fall into:
  • Non Candidate – The person who is very happy with their career path and has no intention of making any changes
  • Passive Candidate – The person who is very happy with their current situation, but may be open to hear about a different opportunity if it is truly exceptional
  • Active Candidate – The person who is aggressively pursuing new professional opportunities

Regardless of which category you fall into, having these connections can be beneficial to you. Most recruiters who are utilizing LinkedIn as a networking tool will continuously post relative content to help educate both candidates and companies about trends in the hiring market, interview tips/suggestions, and information regarding positions they are currently working on staffing.
 Let’s look at the following scenarios: 
A Non Candidate gets a request to connect to a recruiter and they think, “I’m very happy and not interested in a new job right now.” If this is you, congratulations! It’s great that people are happy and finding success in their current role. If the timing isn’t right, that’s okay. If things ever change though, having those connections may allow you to explore the “what if” scenario.  
A Passive Candidate has the ability to stay as involved as they want with a particular recruiter. Having that connection allows them to passively keep an eye out for opportunities that may be stronger than their current role. 
An Active Candidate should take full advantage of position listings and other helpful content that a recruiter can provide through connecting. Even if they might not have the type of job you’re wanting, they could know someone who does. It’s a great way to have an additional resource for the job search.

Establishing this type of networking relationship can be beneficial to both parties. Even if it's not now, you never know what may happen down the road!

We love to hear your questions and insight, so please comment below! You can also reach out to one of our expert recruiters. Find the closest CFS office to you here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Perfecting your resume: What to cut and what to keep

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Interview Like a Pro Series - Ensuring the next steps

"Interview Like a Pro" is an ongoing series written by Tatiyana Cure, Executive Recruiter, CFS New York

“Do today what others won’t, so tomorrow, you can do what others can’t.”
Brian Rogers Loop

Once you’ve answered and asked all questions, it’s time to end the interview. Obviously, you’re going to thank the interviewer for their time, and the next step is to restate your interest. This may seem obvious, but not everyone does it. The interviewer realizes that you are interviewing them just as much they are interviewing you. Let them know that based on your prior research and this conversation, your interest remains high on the position and the company. This also sets you apart from other candidates who may have bypassed this step.
Typically, most interviewees will end the interview saying “I look forward to hearing from you soon.” This is the easiest way to end the interview, but it doesn’t ensure the next steps. Instead, ask two very important questions. The first one should be, “Based on our conversation today, is there anything that would prevent us from moving forward?” This provides you an opportunity to clarify any lingering concerns.
Hopefully the answer will be, “No, nothing would prevent us from moving forward.” However, be prepared for a response along the lines of, “Ideally we’re looking for someone who has prior exposure to the software that we utilize here.” This isn’t optimal feedback, but knowing why they’re hesitant allows you refute any objections one last time- “I understand your concern, however I have had exposure to other software which I learned very quickly. I am confident that I’ll have a minimal learning curve and hit the ground running.”
Your second question should be, “What is the next step?” They may tell you that the next step is to meet Person X, at which point you tell them your availability for this meeting, or they may only say that they have to review their notes. Either way, you have shown your interest by taking a proactive approach in ensuring the next steps. You can also take this opportunity to ask how the rest of the interview process may play out in terms of the number of interviews, the target start date, and if you should prepare references or work samples.
Here’s how the end of the interview should go:
YOU: “Mr./Ms. Interviewer, thank you for taking the time to meet with me. I am very interested in this position and the opportunity to work here. Based on our conversation today, is there anything that would prevent me from moving forward?”
INTERVIEWER: “The only thing that I see as a potential concern is that you had no prior exposure to the industry that we are in.”
YOU: “I appreciate your honesty. Even though I’m not familiar with this particular industry, I have grown my career in several diverse industries in which I had no prior exposure and was able to educate myself quickly. I am confident that I would do the same here. Is there anything else that would preclude me from moving forward?”
INTERVIEWER: “No, I can’t think of anything else.”
YOU: “Great! What is the next step?”
INTERVIEWER: “You would need to meet with the CFO. I will check his availability and reach back out to you by the end of the day tomorrow.”
YOU: “Great! My only restriction is that I would not be able to meet on Tuesday morning next week. I look forward to hearing from you tomorrow to schedule the meeting.” 

Although you do not need permission, you can ask if it’s okay for you to follow up if you haven’t heard back within a certain time frame. Most people think that a thank you or follow-up email is sufficient. Remember, you need to rise above the competition, so if you do not hear back, follow up with a call.
Have more questions about interviewing? Please comment below, or contact a CFS office located near you to speak with a recruiter. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

How to write the daunting career-change resume

Creating a resume for a job you have experience for is hard enough. When you decide to change careers and don’t have a lot of relevant experience, it becomes even more challenging. You should start with a clean slate when pursuing a new direction. Using your old resume can hinder your ability to convince a hiring manager to take a chance with you, so update your resume to focus on skills, achievements, and qualifications most applicable to your new career track.

Only include necessary and relevant information. If you provide achievements that would be impressive to an employer on your previous career path but not your future one, then skip it. “Perhaps you don’t have a ton of experience in the area you want to be in, so be as detailed as possible but keep your resume clean. Remove the excess stuff that will keep you locked in your old career and confuse hiring managers. Think of your resume as your first impression and an opportunity to sell yourself to potential employers,” explains Veronica Concepcion, Branch Manager at CFS of Orlando.

Describe your experience so that it fits your new career path. “You can include individuals, departments, or organizations you may have collaborated with that are relevant to the new position – operations, research, marketing, sales, IT, etc.,” explains David Furlano, Staffing Manager at CFS of Boston. This makes it easier for hiring managers to understand your background, and it allows you to appear as a better overall fit.

Anytime you can quantify your accomplishments, do it! This establishes your credibility and provides a more tangible example of your qualifications. Employers ultimately want to know if you’re someone who can contribute to the organization’s goals and objectives.

“Tailor your resume to the new role that you’re targeting and be sure to include a summary at the top that openly states you’re a professional looking to make a career change,” Furlano explains. Research the position you want to gain enough insight to write a summary that gears your attitude, personality, and relevant experience towards that.

BONUS TIP: “When you can include a cover letter to explain your story, I recommend doing so. You want to call out the career change explicitly to describe how and why you’re making the change. This will grab the employer’s attention and help them understand where you’re coming from,” adds Furlano.

Have more questions about updating your resume? We want to hear them! Please comment below, or contact a CFS office located near you to speak with a recruiter. 

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