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Welcome to JoyPowered Workspace Podcast, where we talk about putting the humanity back into HR. I am JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink and author of JoyPowered a workspace game changing new book. I’m here with Susan White, and national HR consultant and collaborator with Purple Ink. Today’s topic is starting a job search. Susan, I just read this morning actually that Gallup came out with new statistics to say that Americans’s optimism about the availability of good jobs in the US surged to its highest level since they’ve been tracking this statistic.
They say 54% of Americans say now is a good time to find a quality job. Any thoughts on that, Susan? Why do you think that might be?
Wow, I think that’s terrific. I love good news like that.
And you know, who knows why I think the economy’s been really strong for the last six or seven years. And, gosh, if you’re reading the paper today, it looks like it’s going to continue on this on this path.
Right, right. They also they did say in the article, part of it was in fact, the economy, but also that just as employees see their own individual companies hiring, for whatever positions that raises their own optimism that there are more positions and other companies as well.
So as an employer, you’re probably feeling pretty good because the candidates out there and were plentiful, but then again, maybe you should be out looking if your employees are starting to get that interest in looking for a job,
Right. So it’s a good time, I think, as an employer to make sure you’re keeping the employees that you have happy. Having some of those maybe stay interviews are thinking, making sure you have competitive salaries and benefits, that you’re just taking care and watching out for your own employee.
So smart. You know, I love the concept of stay interviews. We use those a lot. And the jobs that I’ve had before. JoDee, why don’t you to talk to the audience a little bit about stay interviews, and why companies do them and maybe how they structure them.
Yeah, so the concept of stay, interviews, I think, comes from thinking about when we’re interviewing new candidates for positions. There’s some excitement around bringing in the new person, right? And who are we going to get and what will they do and how will they add value to the company. But so many times we don’t think about doing that with the employees we currently have, and generating some excitement around them and, “interview” them about what are they like best about what they do? What Strengths are they able to use in their job? How might they use their Strengths more often than their job? What types of things might they do differently? What sort of plans and goals do they have in their current roles?
What I love about stay interviews is that when you learn all that stuff from your current employees, it helps you tell the story to future employees about why it’s great to work here. And that can really help you as you brand your recruiting strategy.
Right, right. So those those can be a very effective tool, just talking. It sort of always makes me think too, about when there’s excitement or buzz in the office when you get a new client, but yet doesn’t seem so exciting when you get more work from an existing client. Right? So it’s your you need to focus on the client you already have and the employees you already have as well. Now, Susan, I hope you’re not looking for a new job, but how do you think it would affect you or those other people out there who are in the process of looking for a job?
Gosh, we I think when we hear how robust the job market is right now, I think you have to also realize as a candidate that the competition is probably going to be greater.
Right. Competition is hearing these statistics too, right? So they might put them on awareness, that there are other opportunities out there. You know, I, for many, many years have told people that even that I worked with that I think it can be a good process to go through to look for a new job, even if you’re not, you know, maybe 100% ready to look, because I always tell people, I think two things can happen when your interview for a job either (A), you do find something that’s better than where you are, or (B), it makes you appreciate where you are. That old adage of the grass isn’t always greener, right?
I think that makes lots of sense. Plus, there’s such a feeling of power that if you are ready for a job search at any point in time, you don’t feel as vulnerable, then that could happen to you, you might lose your job, or, you know, it gives you more choices. So I’m a big fan of that, too. You should always be I think, job change ready, whether you chose to pull the trigger or not.
Right, right. And sometimes that can even be internal positions and your organization too, right? Not just externally but looking. What else there might there be an opportunity for you in with your current employer.
That’s smart. Yeah.
So Susan, what do you think of the steps to look for a job, what should people do first?
You know, I really look at it as a six step process to make sure that you are a job change ready. The first is resume, and we’ll talk about each one of these I think, you know, in a little depth, having a resume that is market ready, I think step one. The second is really having your elevator pitch ready to be able to tell your story. When an employer says, “Oh, JoDee,, tell me about yourself,” you want to be able to articulate very crisply and competently your story. Third step would be actually applying. And I’d love to get into maybe where do you go to apply? And simultaneous with that networking, who do you know, that can help you target, you know, companies and target jobs. Step four, is really preparing for an interview. And really going through all of the heavy lifting, to make sure that your interviewing muscles really strong and ready. fifth step is what to do after you interview. You know, how do you actually close the deal? You’ve gone out there, you’ve shared your story. They’ve asked you all the questions they can ask, how do you make sure when they’re going through their decision making process that you’re the one they pick? And then final step number six is negotiating the offer, and really saying no in the right way to the companies you don’t to join, or maybe the job offers within your company you don’t want to take.
Right. So step number one, we’ll go back to that when was getting your resume ready. Now I keep reading that many people are saying that the resume will be going away soon, and all we’ll have is a LinkedIn profile. Susan, I don’t know about you, but I think that could be true for some organizations. But from my experiences with a lot of clients, I think we’re a long ways away from that still.
You know, it’s funny, I think you can look at your resume – at your LinkedIn profile as a resume. So it doesn’t matter to me, whether you call it your LinkedIn profile, your CV, your resume, your bio, you really do need to have some document. And even if you only see it online, that talks about what are your strengths, what are your abilities, what’s your education? What’s the work experience that you’ve had?
Right? My I always tell people I think a resume is your way to reach out. But your LinkedIn can be a recruiter’s way to find you. And I also think too, and Susan’s right, they can double as the same your resume and your LinkedIn. But I am an advocate of having a short, simple, easy to read resume. Whereas LinkedIn profiles, I think most employers or recruiters are scanning or finding based on keywords. So I think those can be longer. I don’t think a LinkedIn profile has to fit on one page.
Oh, I agree with you. And we do know that many companies, in fact, a recent study I saw said over 80% of employers are actually spending money on LinkedIn to do data mining because they’re out there trying to find passive candidates or they’re out there trying to find you and me. They’re going to first do a Boolean word search, based on the requirements they have in their job. They’re going to try to find people on LinkedIn, who have those skills and those abilities in their profile.
Right. Right. So beef up your LinkedIn profiles for sure. I get a lot of questions surrounding the recommendations and the endorsements on LinkedIn. I’m sure there are lots of different thoughts on that, but I know at Purple Ink we are not looking at endorsements or recommendations. Recommendations can be nice sometimes, sort of a mini reference check, if you will, that someone has added to your profile, but it’s easy to ask good friends to write a recommendation on there. So I’m not sure I would spend a lot of time focused on that. Step number two, ready for that one?
Sure. Yeah, this is where you really want to get your elevator pitch or your thirty second commercial written out and practiced in your own words and your own voice, so that when the interviewer says, “So tell me about yourself.” And believe me, I know some of you’re saying I’m sure an employer is going to say that they have your resume in front of you, are they really going to ask you that question? I guarantee that even with your resume or your LinkedIn bio sitting in front of them, they’re gonna say, “tell me your story.” The reason they’re doing that is they look to see how well you speak. They look to see your enthusiasm, and they really would love to hear from your own voice, what it is that you’re proud of. So I say sit down and really think about it.
Yeah, I love that suggestion. You’d be surprised how many people are not able to succinctly articulate those thoughts. What is it that you want me to know about you in just a few sentences? I think it’s a great idea.
I truly have been in interviews where I’ve seen the candidate just crash and burn because they start in where they went to high school, then they got married, then they had three kids, they go on and on and the interviewer themselves have a hard time grabbing back the speaking mode. So I like to say put it into four paragraphs, your first paragraph would be, you know, here I am, I’m Susan white, I have been in HR for 25 years, I left you know, such and such a company, because of such as such. And then I go to my second paragraph, which is, here are the three things I am really good at. And you never give anybody more than three because most people can’t remember number four, number five, so you really need to stop at three. And then third paragraph would be any special credentials you have, maybe you’re certified in your particular field, maybe you’ve got a master’s in such and such. That’s your chance to give them any special educational or or professional designations. And then your fourth and final paragraph is where I would use that opportunity to transition what I have done to what it is I’m talking to the individual about. So if it’s that I want to stay in human resources, I’d say, I’d like to take all the experience I’ve learned in employee relations in the human resource field, and really apply it at a company that’s headquartered here in Chicago, or whatever, so that they see the linkage.
Both LinkedIn and CareerBuilder have done studies for many years that say that recruiters or hiring managers spend six to ten seconds on your resume. So don’t assume that they’re picking up on the resume what it is you’re wanting to get across to them. So having this elevator speech, about what you want to say and highlight that is really important.
I gotta tell you, isn’t it crushing to think that a recruiter spending six to ten seconds looking at something that you probably spent sixteen to who knows how many hours working on but it is real, that is the truth.
And I’ve had a lot of people say when I’ve asked them how an interview went, they would come back and say “Well, I wanted to tell them this, or tell them that, tell them my story, and I never got the opportunity to fit it in. So if you get that chance right at the very beginning to jump in with with your elevator speech, I think it’s very appropriate.
Oh, I agree. Very smart. Well, good. Well, step three is really applying to jobs and using your network. So why don’t we start with applying for jobs? You know, there’s so many different job boards out there so many different ways to apply for jobs. JoDee, do you have any advice on where would you go? Or where do you suggest your clients go to apply for jobs?
Yeah, so our top two that we always recommend to people are LinkedIn, or indeed, there are lots of job boards out there that connect with each other, even our own applicant tracking system at Purp Ink automatically posts to 10 different sites all at the same time. And then those sites get picked up by other sites. So you don’t have to go to 50 sites to look for them because some might be more specific in your industry that might be more appropriate. But generally, I think if you’re searching LinkedIn, and Indeed, you can stay pretty focused on those two.
I really think those are the two hottest right now. In some of the more specified or specific ones might be if you’re in it, you know, Dice.com is really strong and has a really high success rate. And then you know, TheLadders is one that executives will use. Usually those are for jobs focused only over $100,000. It’s called theladders.com.
We also like, if you’re in central Indiana, there’s a relatively new app or site out there called WorkHere. And it focuses on jobs that mostly are under $40,000 and is based on location. So we highly recommend that one as well.
What I find so interesting about work here is it enables you on a mobile app to see who is hiring from where you are at any given moment. Because so often when I talk to candidates, they want to work somewhere close to home. I mean, that’s really important to them that they don’t have a huge commute. And so what a wonderful new application so you can find out who is hiring in your hood.
Right. One thing to I went to dimension on this, I think it’s fantastic to use your resources and to use your network or people that you might know as an individual company to help you get in the door, but a rule of thumb I always, always encourage candidates to do is apply first online especially if they have an online applicant tracking system to get into the system, and then tell your friends or networks or neighbors or contacts about you. I know when I was an HR director, so many times I would get a phone call or an email saying, John Smith is a friend of mine, and he’s applying for your position. But if he wasn’t in my system right then where I could go there and pull him up and make a notation on it, it got lost for me. So I always tell people follow the rule, follow, whatever it tells you to do to apply if you need to come in, which is pretty rare anymore. But typically, it’s going online and completing the application, then use your networking sources after that.
JoDee, I would say to you, if I’m the person someone wants to network with in a company, I love knowing what job they’ve applied for and the requisition number if they have it, right makes it so much easier, as you say, to get to the HR director or your HR contact to really follow that opening. If I just get a resume from someone and says, “Hey, do you think there’s anything in your company?” It’s much less likely that we’re going to find a match, you know, you as the applicant, you want to do that heavy lifting. Now let’s talk for a moment about using your network. Some of my clients feel very reluctant to say, “listen, I don’t feel comfortable asking somebody for a job. And I don’t want to, you know, go to my friends, I don’t want to go to my former colleagues that are working somewhere else. It just makes me uncomfortable.” I do have some suggestions on how to approach it. One is when you reach out to somebody that you think could be helpful to you, perhaps they work at that company that you’re interested in working at. When you reach out to them, you don’t ask them for a job. What you do is you say “listen, I’m in a job search. I would love to talk to you and get your advice about the companies I should target, or some people you think I should talk to.” So you’re not asking them for a job, you’re asking them for advice, and most people are willing to give advice and makes them a lot less stressed. JoDee, any other techniques you have in reaching out to network?
I just always recommend to people to tell everyone you know that you’re looking for a new position because you never know, who might know of something. You know, some people think accountants, for example, need to talk to other accountants. But it might be your neighbor’s spouse, who’s an accountant or your neighbor’s, grandma or your neighbor’s friend, or you just never know who you might be talking to, that might have a connection somewhere else. So I think it’s always appropriate to let people know that you’re looking. Now that, of course can be more complicated when you have a job. And you’re not wanting everyone to know or certainly at your current employer that you’re looking, then I think you can still have some of these individual conversations with people to let them know that it would obviously need to be more specific about what you’re looking for and where.
I think that’s so smart. I always say it takes a village to find a job. So let your village who cares about you know that you are on the hunt to the extent that you can.
Right, right. Totally agree.
Well, good. Well, that’s applying for a job and that’s networking. But let’s let’s say that you actually get a job interview set up. Let’s talk about how do you prepare for an interview? what suggestions do you have, JoDee, and where would you start?
Well, I tell you, I just heard a new one this week that I’d never heard of before. And it actually came from my son, who is a sophomore in college interviewing for internship positions. And he said as he was preparing for his interviews, he played word games with his roommates. I don’t know where if you heard it in class or at IU, that it helps you think on your feet. Wow. So he was playing some some specific games that everyone had to participate in to share their thoughts on just silly subjects. And we did it as a family last weekend, and I thought it was a great idea of just getting your mind around different topics, and how to respond. Now, having said that, I think sometimes we tend in interviews to speak too quickly. Right? And it’s okay to pause and think, “Okay, how do I want to answer this question? What situations have I had? What do I want to share?” Even to say to the interviewer, “Let me think about that for a second.” How do I want to answer this? So thinking on your feet is good, but maybe still pausing to make sure how you want to articulate your answer.
Oh, that’s great. We know that many, many employers are trained on behavioral based interviewing. And so they are going to ask you questions about give me a specific example of a time when you… and they’re going to pick something that’s needed in the job that they’re trying to hire you for. It might be give me a specific example of a time you had a difficult customer. What did you specifically do? And what was the outcome? And so you want to think about as you prepare for interviews, what are some… look at the job description, looks like you’re gonna be dealing with customers, it looks like you might be working across the organization on projects, it looks like you might need to be able to use different types of technology. Spend some real quality time thinking about in your past jobs, or even in your volunteer work. How have you use those skills, so that when they ask you for a specific example of a time you dealt with a difficult customer, or you were on a project team where somebody wasn’t pulling their weight, or sometime when there wasn’t the technology available that you needed? And they asked you, what did you specifically do and what what was the outcome? You’ve got some real authentic situations that you can share. So I’m always encouraging people to think through really specifics from their job. So even if that interview, they have to pause and think about a time it will have been fairly recent that they had thought about it, so it should pop up.
Right, I think generally, too, even just thinking about three or four key moments in your career, and it might be key moments where things didn’t go so well, or where things did go really well. And a lot of times you can pull different versions of that story into a behavioral interview question. So it’s thinking about what are those key moments? And how might that be an answer to several different kinds of behavioral questions.
I think that makes sense. The other thing when people are preparing, I like them to think about what do they think their greatest strengths are? And what do they think their greatest weaknesses are? That’s a question that’s been asked, oh gosh, you know, for, probably since the dawn of time, and I think everyone’s fairly comfortable talking about their strengths, but when it comes to sharing a weakness, you know, the one that people say, “Oh, I just care too much.” I just work too hard! I probably wouldn’t recommend those. Instead, I would think about a true weakness, and be authentic. But the way I would approach it, and maybe it’s that you sometimes miss deadlines. Maybe it’s that you have a hard time standing up for yourself or whatever it is, I want you to be authentic. But I always coach an individual to really go in there and present it in something like this. “JoDee, you know, I learned early in my career that sometimes when I have a lot of things going on, that I want to give everything full attention that at early on, I miss deadlines. So what I’ve learned to do is now what I do is I set up every Friday little alarms and alerts so that I don’t miss deadlines.” Whatever it is, you want to let them know what it truly is, but let them know how you’re conquering it. I will tell you that future employer would much rather have somebody who understands her weakness and they’re working around it than somebody who says “I just care too much.” Right. I work too hard, right?
Well, Susan, you know, I’m a big fan of StrengthsFinder, and truly our greatest weaknesses can in face be our greatest strengths. Some of those standard answers you mentioned, I’ve heard many, many times too, but thinking I just told you before we started that one of my top five signature Gallup strengths is positivity, and that can lead me to be naive and being overly positive. So try and give a specific example maybe of how that has happened, like Susan said, and what you are doing to overcome it and not just sound a bit sappy about it.
I think that’s really fair. That’s great. So you’ve had an interview and you think things went well, but you don’t know. They told you they get back to you with an answer. What are some of the things that you can do as a candidate to hopefully, make sure that they give you an offer? What are some follow up activities after the interview that you’d suggest JoDee?
So it used to be years ago, early in my career when it was the thing to do to send a written thank you note, right? It’s extremely rare when I get a written thank you note anymore and I don’t even expect people to do it. But I do expect a follow up email, at least, certainly it doesn’t hurt to do or written thank you note as well, but I do expect a follow up. So many times I hear people say, “I haven’t heard anything from them, it’s been a week.” Or “they told me they’d get back with me in a week, and I haven’t heard,” and I’ve said have you followed up with them? Yes to say, “Hey, you know, not that you want to be aggressive with them. But I had a note on my calendar that I might hear back from you today and I was just checking in to see the status.” I also do think Susan, though, it does take… if someone tells you they will get back with you in a week and they don’t, it’s totally appropriate to follow up. But many times, too, I think it does take employers much longer than you think to make decisions, or to get approvals, or to have a meeting with other interviewers and follow up. So don’t, don’t lose hope if you don’t hear back right away.
And you may have been one of the very first candidates they saw, and you could be the bar or the standard they’re comparing everyone else to, but it takes them a while to get through it, I get it. So don’t panic when you haven’t heard. I have a rule of thumb that if someone says, you know, we’re going to be back to you in a few weeks, then you obviously you do the thank you note. However, whatever medium you want to use. And then I say try to stay in touch every five business days, even if it means you just send an article about something you talked about in that interview. Or perhaps it’s sending a note saying, “Hey, I didn’t give you my references when I was there. I’d be happy to give those to you.” Or you just want to say “I’m just touching base to let you know how interested I am in coming to work for you. If there’s any additional information you need, just let me know.” I will tell You that that follow up every five business days, unless they’ve told you it’s going to be two weeks, then don’t, you don’t need to bother them in between if you have a specific date they’re getting back to you. But that follow up can really set you apart from most other candidates.
Right. This, of course, would also be an appropriate time to use those other networking resources that you have that might have that connection to the interviewer, to the owner, to someone in a decision making role. Or even just to put in a good word for a candidate. Sometimes it doesn’t really matter what the person’s position is at the organization. It’s always nice to make a connection via someone.
It is nice to know that person, you know, has a friend. We want that kind of person in our workplace. That’s super well then the final step, step six is really either accepting or negotiating the offer or declining the offer. If you get turned down for a job. I can’t tell you how many times you people have been turned down for jobs, you as the candidate do it so graciously, that the employer sometimes comes back when they have that opening occur again, or they get to add to staff, they you know, you’ve invested time with them, and they’ve invested time with you. Just because they’re turning you down for this specific job, the relationship may not be over. So I always say you want to end it on a classy note very positively. Let them know you’ve appreciated it. And then don’t be surprised if some point down the in the future, you don’t have an opportunity to speak with that person again,
Right. A lot of times people think they didn’t get a job because they messed up, or they said the wrong answer, or they did something wrong in the interview process, and I know as an interviewer that 90% of the times it’s not the case and that we’re actually struggling to make a decision between the top two or three candidates to decide which one and it might just be one One thing on the resume that puts someone else above or a couple of more years experience in a particular function or field or a different kind of degree. And so it’s very likely that an opportunity could arise that you might still be a fit for the company.
Makes sense. So JoDee, was there any mail from or even call ins from any of our audience?
We did get an email this week from Peg in Indianapolis. And she asked a great question that was relative to this topic. She says “I’m not happy in the job I am currently working, but I’m concerned about how it looks to other employers that I am hunting while still employed. Is this frowned upon or what can I do to keep this from tarnishing my presence in the interview?”
Hmm. I would say that it’s very common to look for a job while you have a job and I would not let that worry you, Peg. What I would do is I would be very careful to make sure that I did not use my work phone number or my work email address in the search. Because first of all, you would be using your company’s time to look for another job, and that would be crossing the line. And that wouldn’t feel good, I don’t think to the prospective employer. But other than that, I think it’s very normal for someone to look for a job while you’re working.
JoDee, what do you think? Well, I totally agree, and I think when Susan mentioned earlier about practicing that elevator speech, it’s really important for you to be able to articulate why are you looking for a job? In a positive way, of course, not bashing your current company or your current boss, but understanding what might this role have that is different than what you have, how you might use your strengths better in this role or why are you out there interviewing?
That’s great. And remember not to bash the employer. Great point. People want to hire happy people. And if you are leaving, you’re thinking of leaving where you currently work because of something you don’t like, you’ve got to really think about how you frame that up in your elevator pitch because people don’t want to hire somebody who has got sour grapes.
Right. Susan on our in the news segment I wanted to update we are still waiting to hear and don’t actually have an official update on the new FLSA ruling regarding the minimum pay to be considered an exempt. And we don’t know how the Trump administration will handle that or if they will squash it. But regardless, we feel it’s very important that we encourage you to examine your current positions for clarity. A lot of positions we found might have been classified incorrectly regardless of that minimum. threshold a pay. So check out DoL.gov and look for exemptions to help you determine the proper status of all of your employees.
I think that’s smart advice.
And thanks everyone for listening today. If you have questions on any HR topic or feedback on our podcast, please reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter @joypowered, please tune in next month as we talk about succession planning.
Great. Thanks so much, JoDee. And thanks, everyone.