Setting appointments

In an earlier blog post I compared the job search process to the sales process.  One of the steps in the sales process is setting appointments.  I would like to follow-up on that step with some additional information.

I mentioned in the post that there is no direct correlation between setting appointments for a sales executive and a candidate calling into companies and trying to set interviews.  While true, there are some things you can do to help set other types of appointments; namely, informational interviews.

Get your target list of companies together.  Start researching who in the organization would be a good person to talk to.  With a little bit of time and effort you can easily get a good idea of how the organization is laid out and who reports to whom.  Once you have a good list, start calling into that company and ask for the people you have identified.  You can also follow-up by sending them an invitation to connect on Linked In (LI).

I suggest making the call first.  More often than not, you will get voice mail.  Leave a concise, professional message leaving your name and call-back number twice.  Be sure to speak slowly and clearly.  We so often give out our own phone number that we say it very quickly.  If someone is listening to your message and they are trying to write your number down as you say it, if you say it quickly they may miss it.  So say it slowly and repeat it.  I have also written previously on how to leave a message.  You can read that post here: http://wp.me/p3nLpj-2r

After you leave your message, you can then personalize a note in your LI message.  Something like: “Hi Chris, I left you a message but wanted to follow-up this way as well.  I have a couple of questions for you and would appreciate a bit of your time.”

I am a strong proponent of leaving your phone number in every communication: phone, email, LI messages, etc.  You want to be easy to contact.  If someone has to search for your number or listen to a message several times to get your number chances are they will give up trying.  I have long used the practice of giving my phone number in every message I send through LI.  My typical closing in LI looks like this:

Thank you,

Chris

817.300.3081

For every email account I have, I have created a default signature that provides my number, Twitter and blog information.  You want to be easy to contact.

Happy hunting!

Who are you going to bless today?

Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones come daily.  – Ivy Baker Priest

The purpose of RecruitingShingle is to help those in the job-search process.  Being unemployed or in the wrong position can be stressful.  I know firsthand.  I’ve been unemployed a few times in my career.  I thought I might be able to help people in that situation by leveraging my years of corporate recruiting experience.  It’s not flashy but the right kind, helpful or supportive word, the right assistance to the right person at the right time can be profound.

For the past several months (it could even be a year or more) I have driven through a particular part of town where I live and have seen an elderly gentleman on the sidewalk holding a sign.  He is not there every day or even every weekend.  But when he is there he is always wearing slacks, a nice white dress shirt and white athletic socks on each hand.  His sign reads “I need a job please.”  Time and time again I have driven by, seen him and wondered what his story is.  Several times I have been with my entire family and we ask ourselves the same questions about him.

This past Sunday, September 15 I was driving by and he was there in his usual spot.  This time I decided it was time to stop wondering and find out.  I was with my nine-year old daughter and I said, “I’m a recruiter.  I help people find opportunities.  Maybe I can help him too.”  We found a spot in a nearby parking lot and walked up to him and started a conversation.

I introduced myself and my daughter and started to ask him questions.  What’s your background?  What type of position are you looking for?  What is your educational background?  Those types of things.  It didn’t take long to determine he was a bit slow.  Whether it was due to age or mental capacity I couldn’t determine.

I asked him if he had any computer skills and he lifted up a sock-covered hand and moved it up and down indicating the hunt and peck method.  I asked him if he had any kind of resume and he said “No.  I haven’t had a phone for a while now.”  He said he liked administrative work and filing.  I asked him if he were given an opportunity if he would be able to get to work.  He said he could.  At that I told him about the Southlake Focus Group; a networking group I have written about previously.

I went back to my car with my daughter and wrote down the details for the meeting.  As I was writing, another vehicle pulled up and a gentleman got out and approached the job-seeker.  I saw he gave him a business card and he turned and left.  Before I got back out of my car I looked at my daughter and asked: “Do you think he could use this?” as I pulled out a $20 bill from my wallet.  I rarely carry cash but happened to go to the ATM that morning.  My daughter got a big grin on her face and agreed he could probably use it.  So I told her, “then let’s bless him with it.”

We got out of the car and went back to him.  I went through the notes I wrote and told him they meet every Thursday morning.  As he took the sheet of paper from my one hand, I took the money in the other and slipped it in his shirt pocket.

As we drove away, my daughter was filled with questions: “I wonder if he has a family?  I wonder if he’ll be ok?  I wonder if he has enough food?  I wonder why he wears socks on his hands?”  She even had the thought to make him a new sign because the one he had was ripped and coming apart.  I told her those were good questions and maybe one day we’ll find out but at the very least there are places he could go for help in getting food.  I told her “he has a car and that he is able to wear nice clothes so maybe his situation is not so bad.  But we stopped and offered help; we blessed him – together.

I’m quite certain that five-minute exchange with the job-seeking stranger had a huge impact on my daughter.  That thought was confirmed a few days later; the following Thursday morning (the day of the networking meeting) before she left for school.  She came up to me while I was sitting at my desk in my home office and wondered out loud: “I wonder if he is able to get to the meeting you told him about.”  My response was straight forward and honest: “If for whatever reason he couldn’t make it today, maybe he’ll make it some other week.”

In the weeks and months to come, I’m going to make it a point to stop and chat as often as I can.  I hope over time I will learn more about him and move him closer to a job.  Our first exchange lasted only a few minutes but I know it will have a lasting impact on me, my daughter and him.

To be continued…

Dream big and keep at it

Have you ever had the experience of reading something or experiencing something that stops you in your tracks because it makes you see something in a new way?  Those moments are called paradigm shifts.  I had one this week and it actually scared me (but in a good way, if that makes sense.)

I subscribe to Jim Rohn’s newsletter.  If you are not familiar with Jim’s work I strongly encourage you to investigate.  A couple of times a week I receive an inspiring and motivational article in my inbox.  As often happens, there are articles included from other motivational speakers.

This week, after I read Jim’s article, The Rose, there was another article by Chris Widener.  The title of Chris’ article was Dare to Dream Again.  And in reading that article I had my paradigm shift.

He started off by recounting how when we’re all young we dream big.  But “Eventually we started to let our dreams die. People began to tell us that we couldn’t do the things we wanted. It was impossible. Responsible people don’t pursue their dreams. Settle down, get a job, be dependable. Take care of business, live the mundane, be content.”

That’s a scary thought but it’s not the one that actually scared me.  Chris then goes on to list several areas where we can begin to dream again and the advantages of doing so.  Dreaming, says Chris, enables us to avoid regret.  Dreaming gives us personal and family fulfillment.  Dreaming makes the world a better place.  True, true and true!

What he had to say about leaving a legacy is what stopped me in my tracks.  This is what he said:  How will your children remember you? As one who sought all that life had to offer, using your gifts and talents to their fullest extent, leading the family with a zest for life, or as an overweight couch potato who could have been? Our children need to see that we dream; that we search for something better. They in turn will do the same!

Wow!  Who in the world wants their kids to remember them as an over-weight couch potato?  Not me.  I’m not over weight but I do have five fantastic kids.  The last thing in the world I want to be remembered by is that I watched a lot of TV.

If they see you setting goals and pursuing dreams, they’ll do the same.  If you are in near-constant motion in pursuit of your dreams they will assume your tempo.  If you tell them what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, they will come to understand and can even help you in ways no one else ever could.  It’s funny.  I’ve learned that the younger they are, the more apt they are to understand.  My 9-year old daughter doesn’t miss a trick.  She doesn’t let anything pass.  Everything has to have an explanation.  I then get to see the world from her perspective.  It is very useful and helpful information.

When it comes down to the choice of how I want my kids to remember me, it won’t be as a couch potato; you can bet your @$$ on that.  It will be as a dreamer and goal-setter.  The one who helped broaden their horizons by not only teaching them how to dream but having them grow up watching me do it.  After all, the best parenting advice I ever read was this: Preach the gospel at all times.  When necessary, use words.

I can live with failure; knowing I tried and didn’t succeed.  I refuse to live with regret.

At the end of the interview are you prepared with questions?

You’re nearing the end of your interview.  The interviewer asks you “do you have any questions for me?”

Now what?

Hopefully, you have been asking questions all the way through your interview.  But if not, you better have a good list of questions at the ready or you will be viewed as unprepared and/or disinterested.  Neither option is good.  Here is a quick list (certainly not all-inclusive) of questions you should be prepared to ask.  You can ask questions about the job, the company/culture, your responsibilities or the rest of the interview process.  You can tailor any of them to meet the specifics of your situation.

Here are some examples or thought-starters:

Questions about the job and your responsibilities:

When I start, what would be the top 3 things I would need to address or focus on in my first 30-60 days?  (This is important to ask because regardless of what the description says or what has been discussed in the interview up to this point, their answer will tell you what’s important to them and what they need you to focus on.  It also mentally places you in the position.  You want the interviewer to see you in the position.)

Based on our conversation, do you feel there are any issues with my background and experience that would keep me from receiving an offer?  (Take the opportunity and a pro-active stance to address any objections they may have about your candidacy.  You may not feel comfortable asking about your perceived deficiencies regarding your candidacy but it’s better to ask now in the interview setting where you can address them immediately and get an idea of where their head is rather than to wait to hear you didn’t get the job.)

Questions about the company/culture:

How long have you worked here?  (Are they brand new too?  If so, they may not have great insight into the company just yet.  If this is the case, follow-up with this question: why did you decide to work here?)

What do you like best about your position?  (Do they provide a ‘canned’ answer or do they provide something specific?  Their response could be telling.)

What do you like best about the company?  (Is it the free soft-serve in the cafeteria or is it the autonomy they’re given to do their job?  There’s a wide gap between the two.)

What would you change about the company is you could?  (This will give you a glimpse into how they view the company.)

Questions about the rest of the interview process:                 

Is there anyone else I need to speak with as a part of process? (Companies these days are notorious for not wanting to make a hiring decision. To support this behavior, many of them will throw in additional interviews at that final stage for additional reinforcement of their decision to hire or not hire.)

What is the rest of the process? (Do they know or does it sound like they are making things up as they go?)

When do you intend to make a decision? (Listen carefully to their answer. You will be holding them accountable to this if the process drags on.)

How many other candidates are you talking to? (You want to know as much about your competition as possible.)

When can I expect an offer? (You know what their offer would look like because the salary has already been discussed.)

Hope is a good thing

There are three ingredients in the good life: learning, earning and yearning.  Christopher Morely

I created RecruitingShingle to help those that are in career transition.  There are so many seemingly complicated moving parts to a job search; I want to help by providing ideas, clarity or understanding however I can.    But today, I want share with you a remarkable group of people.

Week in, week out, they are in the arena slugging it out working, striving, learning, networking, sharing, and growing.  They are way outside their comfort zone but they are doing what needs to be done.  So this week I dedicate my article to the job seekers and volunteers at The Southlake Focus Group (SFG).

By far, this group is the most helpful, supportive and, most importantly, useful organization in the Dallas / Fort Worth area to help those in career transition to find a new position.  I have availed myself of their services a few times over the course of my career.

They are always there willing to help and support you as you go about the task of finding your next opportunity.  One of the comments they like to make is “we’re sorry you’re here but we’re glad you found us.”

In my experience, these job seekers are in a constant state of learning.  They are honing their skills.  Getting better at giving their elevator pitch, updating their resume and cover letter, learning how to ask better questions in an interview, learning the intricacies of Linked In, how to be more productive with their time in networking and sharing opportunities and so much more.  These are all good things.

This group is also in a state of yearning.  Many feel their lives have been up-ended due to the loss of their job.  And they’re right.  Many have been out of work for a few weeks.  Many more have been out several months.  They are all yearning for their next position.

When I think about the word ‘yearning’ I think of the word hope.  And when I think of the word hope I also think of my friend Marvia.  I met Marvia several months ago while attending the SFG and its spin-off group HR Career Networking Group.

Marvia is one of those rare people who, once they enter your life, I hope you have the wisdom to recognize the impact they can have on you.  She inspires, offers hope and encouragement.  I have asked Marvia for help several times.  Each time she has responded with more than I asked.  And she does it with a giving attitude.  When I reached out to her for help again just yesterday she provided an array of ideas and suggestions.

She also followed up with a note indicating that she just landed a new position.  No one deserves it more.  Way to go Marvia!  I am so very happy and excited for you.  To say nothing of how proud of you I am.  You have taught me a great deal and I look forward to future lessons.

She also has a very inspiring blog.  You can check it out here: http://humanimpulse.wordpress.com/

Never stop learning.  Never stop yearning.  And do what you can to never stop earning.

Take The Risk

Without risk, faith is an impossibility.  Kierkegaard

I have posted previously about some of my favorite reading material.  Fortunately, that list keeps getting longer and longer.  I was thumbing through a book I read years ago and I came to a page telling of an interesting study.

The book is The Journey From Success to Significance by John Maxwell.  The title itself speaks volumes.  It assumes you’re starting from success and want to make even more out of your life.  A good portion of the population want to get to success.  Once there, they think they’ve made it.  Nope.  Success is just a stop-over on the way to significance.

Like the definition of success, the definition of significance will mean different things to almost everyone.  But stop and ponder that for a minute . . . .  Think BIGGER.  Don’t just define what success looks like for you.  Define what significance means to you and set your sights on that!  I promise you, the two are very different.

On to the study.  The following is quoted verbatim from pages 28 & 29 from The Journey From Success To Significance:

Anthony Campolo has recounted a sociological study in which fifty people in their late nineties were asked one question: If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?  It was an open-ended question allowing any kind of response, yet three answers kept surfacing from the people:

1) If I had it to do over again, I would REFLECT MORE.

2) If I had it to do over again, I would RISK MORE.

3) If I had it to do over again, I would DO MORE THINGS THAT WOULD LIVE ON AFTER I AM DEAD.

What a perfect description of the preparation for significance!  These near centenarians didn’t miss any of the traditional trappings of success.  They didn’t wish for more money, power or fame.  They wanted to get beyond themselves and do something that mattered, boldly and purposefully.  They recognized the value of a life given to significance.

“Get beyond themselves.”  What a powerful statement.  I submit that the reason most people will never achieve success (even as they define it for themselves) is because they can’t get out of their own way.  They find all the reasons why something can’t or won’t work.  As a result, they stay stuck where they are.

So what’s in your heart right now?  Is there something stirring there?  Is something speaking to you?  Don’t ignore that voice.  Listen to it.  Pray over it.  Act on it.  Recognize your gifts and that you have a lot to offer this world.  I have had the great fortune to see glimpses of how people view me.  Believe me, you engender more influence and respect than you think.  You are more powerful than you would ever believe.  Our Maker certainly isn’t in the business of making mistakes.  You have the power and all the tools you need to have a life of significance.  As Erika Napoletano has said: when are you going to admit that there is something glorious about being you?

Have you been out of work for a while and nothing seems to be going right?  Are all the doors being closed on full-time employment opportunities?  Maybe it’s time to take a look around for that window God opened for you.  Feel that breeze?  Yeah, it’s coming from somewhere.  Go find the source.  Maybe that opening leads to you starting your own business instead.  Maybe being an employee is not where you’re supposed to be.  Maybe you’re supposed to be a business owner and the one that offers opportunities to others.  Are you in a failing relationship?  Are you refusing to take ownership of your responsibilities to make things better?  Is it the right relationship for you?  Ask the tough questions and be honest with the answers.  There’s a better life out there…for every one.  Go and get it.  Make it happen.

If you step out and take the risk, might you lose? It’s a possibility.  Will the outcome be precisely what you were working toward?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  Will you regret taking the risk?  Never.  If you step out and act on what’s in your heart I promise you, you will learn more about yourself and your limits (or what you thought were your limits) than you ever thought possible.

Words are important; tone is critical.

It’s not so much what you say, as the manner in which you say it.

It’s not so much the language you use as the tone in which you convey it.

“Come here!” I said sharply,

And the child cowered and wept.

“Come here,” I said

He looked and smiled

And straight to my lap he crept.

Words may be mild and fair but the tone may pierce like a dart;

Words may be soft as the summer air but the tone may break the heart.

For words come from the mind,

They grow by study and art.

But the tone leaping from your inner self

Reveals the state of the heart.

Whether you know it or not, whether you mean it or care,

Gentleness, kindness, love and hate

Envy and anger are there.

Then, would you quarrels avoid

And peace and love rejoice?

Keep anger not only out of your words,

Keep it out of your voice.