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September 2, 2010

Career search, job changes,

Filed under: Food for thought for friends — Alec @ 7:40 pm

Over my 45 year career in manufacturing, I had many opportunities to search for new employment.   During those times I considered myself an Executive Recruiter with one client.

In those times I became pretty good as an executive search person.   It comes down to these areas

1.   Network

2.   Preparation for interview

3.   Interview technique

4.   Follow up

Hard to say which is most important, because any error at any step may cost you the offer.

In your career today,  in business today, the probability is that you will be searching for a job 4 or 5 times over the next 20 or 30 years.

1.  So,  Start networking now.    Keep in touch with college friends, meet people in social circles, join a service club, meet people at church, your kids schools, your barber, neighbors, family, etc.   Keep in touch with them socially, and if they are ever searching, help them.     Keep lists of executive search people that call for referrals.   Especially the retained search type.  If and when you are actually searching you must keep your network informed of your status.   Every three weeks an email,  every 2 months a phone call.   No exceptions.   If you fail here,  you fail.   Just last month a client ask if I knew of a financial manager,  I said no.   Then yesterday a friend of mine emailed me that he is still looking.   I had not heard from him in 4 months, and assumed he had found a job.   Plus, I forgot he was looking.  Fail to keep your network informed and you lose many opportunities.

                a.   Also,  when you call your friends and network, even if they are in a position to hire you.   Never ask for a job.   Instead ask who they know that you should talk to.

                b.   At first,  take and follow every lead even if the wrong location and the wrong job title.   You need the practice interviewing.   This is the second biggest mistake people make,    “I don’t want to work in XXX”,   take the interview,  practice.   You can turn down the job if they offer.   Plus, they may have another division or another job in Indi.

2.    OK,   you have an interview.    Do a lot of research.  Ask your friends who they know that works for company XXX.

Go on line ,  look at their web site.    Look at their stock if available.

                a.   With the research write 5 good questions,   What are your company values, What is your 5 year vision, What are your inventory turns, etc.

                b.   Think about what questions they might ask you.   Write them down and write down how you would answer them

                c.   Write down what the things are you would do if you got the job.      If you were boss?

3.    The interview.   Dress and groom yourself appropriately.     Take out your earrings and nose piercing,  get a haircut, shave.      Do you want a job or not.    After you have had the job 6 months and proved your worth, you can grow the hair and beard back.

                a.   Be early

                b.   Dress very appropriately,   I like cleaned and pressed dark slacks, black dress shoes, and an ironed light blue dress shirt even if you are applying to be a machinists.  ,   if you are applying to be a salesperson, add a sport coat and tie.   If you are applying to be the CEO, wear a suit.

                c.   Grooming,  clean your hands and fingernails.   Brush your teeth, get them whitened if necessary.  Especially if you are a smoker. 

                d.   Don’t smoke or don’t ask to smoke even if offered.    I would try to decide if a person smoked, if they did I never hired them.    I even know an HR person that would offer people a smoke,  then not hire them if they did.

                e.   Be prepared to answer these questions,   Write down the answers and have them memorized.   Ask an HR friend to look at your answers and critique them. 

                                i.   Tell me about yourself in 5 minutes

                                ii.   What are your strengths

                                iii.   What are your weaknesses

                                iv.   Why did you leave your last job. 

                f.    If you go to dinner or lunch,  order a small meal.    Order something easy to eat,  Like a salad or a bowl of soup or Chili.    Not lobster,  not a huge steak.     You will want to talk and listen.    you can stop after and get something to eat.  I have even got a sandwich prior to the meeting so I was not hungrey.   Use your manners.  

                g.    Finally,  the first 60 seconds is the most important when you meet.   Observe things in their office, get a feel for the person.   Mimic their body language.   Don’t talk to much.  Mimic their voice tempo and volume.

                                i.   Ask if ok to take notes,  if yes, take some.

                                ii.   have a script with your questions you thought up in 2b written in the margin.  write their responses.

                                iii.  Ask questions,  answer questions ending with a question,  you want them to talk.    I once got a job offer after the first interview when I ask 3 questions and never answered any. 

                h.   Always close the meeting with a thank you and you are interested (even if you are not), hope to see them again.   (you can always turn down the second interview when called).

                i.   If ever ask how much you want to be paid,  I always reply that I expect to be fairly compensated for my experience and talent.   I never give a number the first interview.       You can say you are more interested in the long term opportunity and the chemistry of fellow workers and values of the company.

4.    After the interview.   Immediately,  drive out of their parking lot to the next parking lot and stop and make a plethora of notes.   What you wore, what they wore,  who you talked to, how long you talked to them, the questions they ask, what were your answers, what questions did you ask, what were their answers.   

                a.   When you get home,  use your notes from 3gi and the parking lot and write a situation analysis.

                b.   Write a friendly letter thanking them,  mentioning a few things you talked about, a few things from your situation analysis.     And that you are interested.

5.    The second interview,  repeat above, but study your notes, use them to write questions

                a.   use your notes about those you talked to show you were observant and interested.

                b.    Job searches are like sales ,  except you are the product.

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