Monthly Archives: March 2012
Michael Junge says he fell into the recruiting field by accident. He was majoring in creative writing at the University of Arizona, and his parents’ next-door neighbor worked in staffing. During one of his college summers, Junge did some work for him.
“We got along well and I worked hard, so after graduation he offered me a job,” says Junge. “As it turns out, the career choice stuck.”
In 2000, Junge started as a recruiter at Kforce.com (then called Romac International). A year later, he was recruited to join the start-up team at Surrex Solutions Corporation in Irvine, Calif., and achieved recruiter-of-the-year status five years in a row before being promoted to national development manager and then director. During that time, the company went from zero to more than $50 million in revenue.
In 2011, Junge was recruited once again: this time to the Google leadership and executive recruiting team, where he currently works.
In addition to his work for Google, Junge recently authored “Purple Squirrel,” a career book he describes as “written in and for the modern job market.” Junge shared a number of recruiting insights with FINS. Edited excerpts follow.
Elizabeth Garone: You’ve been in the recruiting business 12 years. How has it changed for recruiters and for candidates since you started?
Michael Junge: Finding relevant talent used to be remarkably difficult. Think cold calling, networking, and mining data from home-grown databases. Now the opposite is true. Online job boards, social and professional networks, and a more globalized talent market have flipped the equation completely upside down. The bigger challenge these days is sorting through the enormous amount of potentially available prospects and investing time on the much smaller group of high probability applicants.
From a candidate perspective, the changes are even bigger and more complex. Recession, globalization, and the constantly evolving Internet have dramatically altered the employment landscape. At the same time, job boards, social and professional networks, and thousands of potential resources call for time and attention. The number of potential distractions in an online job search is almost limitless, and sorting through them to settle on an effective and focused strategy is remarkably difficult.
EG: What was your impetus for writing “Purple Squirrel?”
MJ: The employment game is fascinating to me. I love studying top performers on both sides of the equation – job seekers, hiring managers, and talent hunters. Since joining the industry I’ve made an ongoing practice of observing the habits, attitudes, techniques, and strategies that set the best apart from their peers and put a job search on an accelerated trajectory. As you can no doubt imagine, many of those things have changed enormously over the years. My goal with “Purple Squirrel” was to put that information into a simple, actionable framework that empowers readers to be exceptionally effective in their job search and consistently inspired in their career path.
EG: What traits do all good candidates possess? Can they be learned?
MJ: Almost everyone I’ve ever interacted with as a recruiter has had some combination of relevant skills and experiences. Being qualified is more or less an expectation. Otherwise, there’d be no reason to connect. Great candidates are passionate, eager to learn, responsive, and courteous. They’re excited to talk about what they do because they genuinely enjoy it and find it interesting. They go out of their way to develop and expand their skills, always looking to improve and get better. They respond in a reasonable time frame, and they treat others with respect. Really smart candidates ask good questions, listen, and use that information to respond in a contextually relevant way. These are traits that can absolutely be developed and cultivated over time.
EG: On the flipside, describe the candidates you never call (or wish you never called).
Provided their qualifications line up, everyone gets a fair shot. If someone is rude, dismissive, or can’t back up their resume claims in a conversation, they probably aren’t moving forward.
Job seekers sometimes forget, or perhaps don’t realize, that recruiters and HR professionals are an active part of the interviewing and hiring process. If you treat them poorly, they have to assume you’d treat others the same way and are obligated to screen you out of the process.
Similarly, if something shows up on your résumé, it’s important that you be able to speak about it articulately and confidently. It’s a good idea to read your own résumé and look for inconsistencies and areas of weakness in advance. If you find something that you’re not ready to talk about or don’t feel comfortable supporting in an interview, brush up and be prepared or consider taking it out.
EG: What are your biggest pet peeves when it comes to candidates? How about red flags?
MJ: Every once in a while someone will launch into a 30 or 40-minute phone dissertation without ever letting a word in edgewise. It’s painful to be on the other side of a conversation like that, and I try to make a point of avoiding repeat performances. Evading direct questions, not having or being willing to provide professional references, and misrepresenting résumé information are common tactics that consistently raise red flags.
EG: With so many options out there, it’s hard for a job candidate to know which way to turn. Social networks, job boards, and job coaches are only a few of the choices. In today’s job market, what is essential and what is a waste of time?
MJ: Spend your time where talent hunters and potential referrers spend theirs. I’m a huge fan of LinkedIn and think it’s a great place to invest energy. The major job boards are still a useful place to post a résumé, and there are tons of smaller niche résumé sites relevant to particular industries and skill sets that can be equally useful.
If you’re going to use social networks, start by building a profile that includes professional details and cleaning up anything that might be considered inappropriate to a potential employer. Actually, the second part you should do regardless. Then make a habit of posting content that could potentially catch the attention of talent hunters.
For those in an active job search, Indeed.com is a great resource for quickly identifying relevant opportunities. The site is effectively a search engine specifically for job postings. Going there instead of bouncing across dozens of sites can save a ton of time that can then be invested in more valuable activities.
In this digital age, we often overlook one of the most powerful job search tools on the planet: other people. Employee referrals are still the preferred source of talent for the majority of companies, so offline networking should be an ongoing part of your job search and career strategy as well.
EG: My guess is that you’re not able to share any of the big secrets to getting hired at Google. Is there anything you can say about what candidates can do to increase their odds of landing an interview and/or a job there or at any hot company?
MJ: Setting yourself up for success in a highly competitive environment is a long-term commitment. Elite employers are ultimately looking for substance, and that’s not something that can be developed overnight. If working for a top company is really a goal for you, be ready to invest time and energy on the front end. Make an ongoing effort to develop expertise in a relevant skill set. Build relationships with top professionals in the field. Go out of your way to contribute and make a difference in the industry. Learn how to write a great résumé and interview like a pro so that you’re ready when the time comes and you get your shot with a dream employer.
Source/Credit: Elizabeth Garone for Student.fins.com
As professionals pursuing a second career or attempting a change of industry may have noticed, getting hired can itself be full-time work. With thousands of candidates hunting for fewer positions, it therefore bears repeating: As many job hunting guides now note, the smartest career move you can make is investing in yourself.
Enter personal branding – the practice of packaging and presenting yourself as Apple or Nike would consumer products. A necessity in today’s mile-a-minute, increasingly visual world, where first impressions are everything, you either instantly stand out or become hopelessly overlooked. Nowadays, the most important brand you’ll ever represent is yourself. Doubly so in the eyes of increasingly harried, time-strapped employers, whose perceptions it ultimately shapes.
Note that this doesn’t mean pretending to be something you’re not. Rather, it’s about realigning yourself to fit contemporary viewpoints. Want to be perceived as relevant? Let others know by keeping your skill set, experience and online footprint up to date. Following are several personal branding basics worth remembering – use them as a general job hunting guide, and you’ll instantly improve your chances of getting hired.
Get Your Story Straight – Forget the fabled 30-second “elevator pitch…” In today’s hyperkinetic age, you’ve got to summarize yourself in one sentence. Observers tend to group people into easily-sorted mental categories, so keep descriptions brief and individually crafted to suit each audience to avoid typecasting. Likewise, from your personal blog to your resume, collateral messaging should also remain consistent. Getting the cold shoulder? One problem may the language you’re using. Free services like Google Insights for Search and Google AdWords keyword tool‘ (which reveal popular online search terms) can disclose if the world’s actually looking for an “IT manager,” not “systems administrator.”
Control Your Online Presence – With employers increasingly turning online to research job candidates, search engine optimization (SEO) – tailoring web pages to rank high in online search results – is vital. Start by inserting your name into Google and see what it spits out: First-page placements are 24X likelier to influence viewer perception (and top three results drive the most traffic). Create more favorable impressions by securing a website featuring your name or a simple variation (ex. www.johnqpublic.com, www.johnquincypublic.com), then filling it with high-quality professional insights. Pursue similar strategies and placements on popular social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) or ones featuring popular keywords fitting your expertise (“/CollegeProfessor,” “/SecurityExpert,” etc.) as well. You can also use popular blogging platforms like WordPress and TypePad (dozens of sites offer eye-catching plug-and-play designs), and create posts featuring these terms to improve search results, and highlight your unique personality and perspective.
Make Your Voice Heard – Most hesitate to speak up for fear of criticism or ridicule. But with so many competing for so little nowadays, the squeaky wheels get the grease. Personal branding lets you establish yourself as a subject matter expert who brings singular, indispensable services to the table, not just another nameless drone. To this extent, you need to create platforms (websites,blogs, podcasts, self-published books/magazines, online video channels, email newsletters, etc.) that can reach large audiences, and galvanize support and discussion from professional readers/viewers. Once built, content that illustrates your expertise should be provided on a running basis, including research, analysis and opinions. All creations should be readily shareable via social media, helping you become a well-known and trusted online presence.
Participate in the Community – Doing favors for fellow job hunters, responding to reader emails and contributing as an unpaid volunteer to industry organizations may seem financially unproductive. But it helps build relationships, contacts and goodwill, while letting you have a positive impact on the professional community at large. Not only do such activities provide the perfect venue to demonstrate your skills and enthusiasm, and connect with potential mentors or advisers. With as many as eight in ten jobs going unadvertised in 2012, the connections they provide could prove essential to landing a new gig.
Join the Online Social – Numerous vehicles – submitting free bylined articles to trade publications, participating in online insider newsgroups, etc. – exist to become a strong and stable voice in your professional community. But you also have to be accessible as well: People have to know where to reach you, and that you’ll acknowledge their opinion by responding to questions and feedback as well, with conversation a two-way street. Note that the door works both ways, however, which savvy job hunters can also use to their advantage. With more employees launching corporate or personal blogs, sometimes the easiest way to get someone’s ear is simply to reach out directly and impress them through perceptive and intelligent discussion. Source: SCOTT STEINBERG for worklifegoesstrong.com
Is your resume boring or super-hero style? Find out how to create a resume and cover letter that will get you called in for that coveted interview.
Do you wish you could read all the job-hunting books out there, forgo the trial and error of sloppy interviews, and move right to your best self and career?
No need. In response to 22 Game-Changing Job-Search Tips from a Recruiter, I’ve boiled down thousands of pages of advice into 22 game-changing tips that are gaining traction in the real world – tips I’m using in my own job search.
1. Know thyself. Before diving into a job search, take the time to figure out your passions, skills, ideal work environment, ideal colleagues, etc., so you know what you want. Really, it’s that important. Do not proceed to “Go” until you do this.
2. Get your messaging down. Again, don’t start networking until you do this. Take a good stab at your one-sentence, 30-second, and 1-minute elevator speeches.
3. Now forget your messaging. You’ll sound fake if you recite verbatim your stock answers. If you want to appear warm and personal, be conversational, not scripted.
4. Don’t confuse networking with relationships. You may have had coffee with someone, but that doesn’t mean you’re BFFs. Keep it professional until it really turns into a friendship.
5. Cultivate relationships. The best way to do this is to figure out ways to help the other person. You’ll build more relationships if you’re giving something back.
6. Don’t go in cold to networking meetings. Unless you want crickets chirping during pregnant pauses, do your homework and prepare some relevant questions ahead of time. Use networking meetings as opportunities to gain information from your questions.
7. Listen much more than you talk. As Mama said, you have two ears and one mouth. Listen in that ratio. Pose your questions, then step back and let the other person answer.
8. The secret sauce – interpersonal skills. Your social skills, body language, grace, and warmth will say much more than anything that comes out of your mouth. Be aware of how you carry yourself.
9. Leave them wanting more. Respect other people’s time by cutting your networking meetings off after 30 minutes. That will make you more likeable, which will make you more hirable.
10. Revamp the tried and true for 2012. In this day and age, how many people still have their fax number on their business cards instead of listing their Twitter account? How about introducing color in your resume?
11. Forget handicaps. Everyone has a handicap for you. Wrong title, not enough experience, etc. Your job is to find the one person who sees your potential.
12. Create a personal brand. This is more than a logo and tagline. Everything about you, be it tweets, Facebook pages, articles, etc., should have a unified personality, voice and value statement. Your brand should differentiate you from the pack.
13. Be visible. Go to events. Post interesting articles. Connect others. Don’t sit behind your computer all day.
14. Update your network on your progress. You’re the protagonist in your own story, fighting the evil unemployment empire. About every six weeks, let them know how the next chapter is going.
15. But don’t over-ping them. If someone in your networks gets three separate “help” emails from you in a week, they’re going to go cold.
16. Approach interviews like a consultant. This will help you get into the right mindset that 1) it’s less about you and more about how you can help them, 2) you listen and get curious and 3) you demonstrate your genius instead of just talking about it.
17. Breathe and smile. People smell fear and desperation in interviews. To combat your sweat glands, breathe and smile. They are the basic ingredients to being relaxed and personable.
18. “Thank God for unanswered prayers.” Forgive me if I just quoted Garth Brooks, but he’s right. Sometimes you dodge a bullet by not getting the job.
19. Study up on search firms. Executive search firms have very specific protocols and etiquette. If you’re lucky enough to attract their attention, read up on their rules of engagement.
20. Create your own job. If you see a market niche, don’t be afraid to propose your own job. At the very least, they’ll be impressed by your initiative, and you’re in a candidate pool of one.
21. Be you. By being you, you’re guaranteed to be an expert and come across as genuine, which two really good qualities in a job candidate.
22. Enjoy time off. When you’re working, you’ll long for the time when you could have taken three-day weekends. Make the most of this time off while you can.
Source: Jim Rettew is the former Chief Communication Officer for the American Red Cross in Colorado. He recently moved to Minnesota for his wife’s job and is looking for gainful employment. Seems like he’d be a pretty good interview if you’re looking.