Thursday, March 25, 2010

How to Land a Job in 7 Seconds

What does the weather, last night's Raptors game or traffic conditions have to do with landing a job? A lot if you want to make a good impression.

It only takes about 7 seconds to decide if you like someone. If you put a handshake and sincere goodwill in those first 7 seconds, you'll probably make a good impression. Follow up with a little friendly chitchat and you've set the tone for a productive meeting of minds.

Attitude trumps skills. Translation: employers will hire a friendly motivated candidate who's willing to learn over a more qualified candidate with a questionable attitude. And that judgement is made in a snap.

Stick to safe topics. Small talk gives people something to do while they get a feel for each other. The topic isn't that important as long as its familiar to both parties and offensive to neither. The Raptors is only a good icebreaker if you know you're with a basketball fan. But most people can appreciate the challenge of bad traffic or the euphoria of the first warm days of spring.

Feelings trump words. Neither of you is likely to remember much of what was said in  those first few minutes. You're both too busy reading each others expressions, body language, mood and attitude. You're making a split second judgments about the person's personality, confidence, and sincerity. You can't help it - it's automatic and mostly unconscious. But you can improve your chances of making a good impression.

Lighten up. Begin a meeting with light comment. It doesn't have to be a joke. Prepare a few opening comments before arriving then say what feels right at the time.

Harness the power of small. Be polite. Open doors. Offer sincere appreciation. Pay for the coffee. It goes a long way.

Listen. Jay Leno makes every guest the centre of his attention. This works in a job interview too. Ask questions. Give the interviewer the opportunity to tell their story to an engaged and curious audience.

Be a detective. Whenever I enter somebody's office I look for pictures, diplomas, sports equipment, clues. It helps to engage people about something they care about: a family photo, their alma mater (you can research this before a meeting), a new laptop or smart phone. Note these things in your CRM. Remember to mention how well their university is doing in the NCAA tournament during your next meeting and I guarantee the rest of your conversation will be smoother.

Small Talk is like putting. The more you practice it the better you get.

Tim Collins

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The “Canadian Experience” Myth Exposed

I spoke recently with a candidate who had immigrated to Canada within the last three years. He has a PHD in software engineering from a very renowned school in China. He was nervous to apply for a position with only three years of “Canadian experience”. That hit home with me because I have personal experience with the sting of those words.

We use this ugly phrase “Canadian Experience” yet everyday I meet very skilled people who are doing unskilled work. The way I see it “Canadian Experience” is a myth that prevents highly educated and experienced Canadians from getting the work they are qualified to do.

When my wife immigrated to Canada she was high school age according our system yet she was already attending college in the Philippines. The majority of my wife’s relatives are engineers. Yet they have had an extremely difficult time finding work in their field of expertise here in Canada.

In schools in the Philippines a passing grade is 75%! Our passing grade is 50%. So if you’re comparing apples to apples who do you think has a stronger education and a deeper understanding of the theory required to be effective at their job?

We need to stop under-valuing qualifications from other countries. If a job is governed by Canadian laws and regulations, i.e. architecture or dentistry, why not set up an immigration job integration program to allow people to work in their professional fields. It’s a huge waste of talent to welcome professionals to Canada and then require “Canadian Experience” to work in their field.

Often new comers to Canada take “interim” jobs to support themselves and their families. They don’t always have the resources to evaluate and accredit their backgrounds. WES (World Education Services) is a nonprofit organization that evaluates international credentials for a reasonable fee. Their mission is to facilitate the integration of internationally educated individuals into the employment and education environment of their newly adopted country.

Back to my candidate who was concerned about his lack of “Canadian Experience”. I assured him that I recognized the value of the training and experience he'd received abroad. He’s a top caliber candidate and he needs to stand true to his knowledge and abilities. When I presented him for the opportunity our client agreed with me. He’s interviewing this week for the job: a Sr. Level opportunity with a Tier 1 organization. I think he has a good shot at getting the job.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It's Time to Spring Forward

The clocks spring forward today. We'll lose an hour of sleep. But who needs sleep with spring in the air?

Do New Years Resolutions Work?
Is New Years Day really the best time to make resolutions? The dead of winter is a good time to cocoon and do the internal work, to analyze where you are and where you want to go. But mid January doesn't feel like the best time to go on a diet or start a new venture.

Now is the Time for New Beginnings
Hidden potential is coming out of hiding: trees about to blossom, bulbs ready to peak up through the dirt, playgrounds coming to life. Spring just feels like the right time to realize your hidden potential. This is your opportunity to reinvent yourself and shake things up with a new haircut or career path.

What's growing inside of you that wants to be nurtured? Is there something new that you want to learn? This is the perfect time to recommit to that resolution you dropped in February.

Small is the New Big
Small Is the New Big: and 183 Other Riffs, Rants, and Remarkable Business IdeasIt doesn't have to be a big thing. If you commit yourself to something small you're more likely to succeed. These books offer inspiration:
Where to Begin
If you're stuck, notice when you hear yourself say the word "should," especially if you're trying to be helpful. "You know what you should do..." Stop, turn the table and see if you're trying to get someone else to do the work you need to do. I often hear myself urging people to write a "Lens" on Squidoo. I should take my own advice.

Spring Fever and Your Career
The job market is heating up along with the temperature. We have more full-time opportunities posted right now then we've had in the past two years. May you should spring forward, tune up your resume, and make that career move you've been considering.

Tim Collins

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What's Your Superpower?

I just finished reading Seth Godin's Linchpin. He writes:

"When you meet someone you need to have a superpower. If you don't, you're just another handshake."
Uh-oh. I take everything personally so I struggle to respond to this challenge.
I can't fly. I don't have x-ray vision. Occassionally I wish I had an invisibility cloak but I don't think that counts. Sorry. No superpowers here.

Yet Godin continues:
"If you want to be a linchpin, the power you bring to the table has to be very difficult to replace. Be bolder and think bigger. Nothing stopping you."
Godin sets the bar a bit too high. Or does he? He says there's hope for us even if we're not Aquaman, Wonder Woman or Steve Jobs. That doesn't mean it's easy. Remember the good ole days when a computer science degree was a one-way ticket to a 300,000 square feet of luxury and freedom 55. Unfortunately you can't get by on skills alone anymore. In a hyper-competitive job market saturated with highly skilled people you need to stand out from the crowd.

How DO you stand out from the crowd?
  • Be indispensible: tackle the tough problems, pitch in and help out even if it's not your job.
  • Add complimentary skills and knowledge to your current skillset.
  • Make other people, especially your boss and customers, look good.
  • Exceed expectations. Be remarkably good at what you do.
  • Be an artist. Design a more elegant, more beautiful and simpler solution.
  • Do the emotional work: Be empathetic, conscientious and considerate towards everyone who has the good fortune to cross your path.
  • Have fun: Bring humour and light heartedness to your work.
Your superpower comes from the heart. It's what people love about you. Proudly display your superpower like Superman busting out of a phonebooth.

Laura Upcott

See also:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Job Market Long Tail

Long Tail, The, Revised and Updated Edition: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of MoreChris Anderson's The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More describes how shifting technologies create opportunities for some businesses and ruin others. It turns out that when we have unlimited access to everything for nearly free we purchase more niche products and less blockbusters. How has the Long Tail influenced the job market?

New EmployersAmazon, Ebay, iTunes, Craigslist, Huffington Post, Netflix, Youtube: What do these companies have in common? They've created empires around new technologies and our insatiable desire for greater choice at a lower cost. Meanwhile newspapers, record labels and retailers that deny the trends and continue "business as usual" are threatened with extinction. The power has shifted along with employment opportunities.

Job Boards vs Classified AdsWhen was the last time you checked the classifieds for job postings? Job search and recruiting methods have moved online. Your professional profile consists of more than a resume: online portfolio, Twitter account, blog, postcasts, Youtube videos, Slideshare decks are all great ways to show what you've got.

Virtualization and Cloud Computing
People with virtualization and cloud computing skills are in big demand according to a recent posting on ReadWriteCloud:
The fastest growing skills are for virtualization, which is at about 2,000 ads, up 21% compared to last year. Cloud computing is showing popularity, too. Last year there were zero jobs posted.This year there are more than 300.
Large companies from a number of industries are hiring virtualization pros, showing the demand is not just from technology companies.
Flexible Work ArrangementsThe beauty of cloud computing is that it makes it easier for you to work from remote locations like a home office, the airport or Starbucks. Virtual teams and virtual companies are becoming more common thanks to Google Docs and webcams.

Even if you work for someone else's company it pays to think like an entrepreneur. If you want to be valuable to your employer be on the lookout for ways to improve processes, products and services. Businesses stay competitive by employing creative people who are willing to think for themselves.

Personal branding
The world gave you control over the means of production. Not to master them is a sin. - Seth Godin, The Linchpin
The barriers to publishing a website, a blog or a book are crumbling fast. At the very least most people are micro-blogging via Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. These platforms are a great opportunity for you to build a professional network and a community. Many people are creating strong personal brands that showcase their skills and even pay the mortgage.

How has the Long Tail affected your career?