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Meet John Worth

John WorthJohn Worth is the Director of Graduate Professional Development at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).  He created a career and professional development program for students in and alumni from the graduate business programs at VCU.  John conducts workshops and webinars on career related topics and meets individually with students and alumni to help them achieve their career goals. Before joining VCU, John was the Director of Alumni and Executive MBA Career Management at the UNC Kenan- Flagler Business School. Prior to that, John was the Director of Career Consulting at the UVA Darden School of Business.

Why Candidates Need To Be Patient During Their Job Searches

“I’m going to begin looking for a new job.  How long do you think it will take?”

“I applied for a new job over a month ago.  Why is it taking so long to hear anything?”

If I had a dollar for every time I have heard these questions, I would be a very wealthy man.  For many candidates, their job searches feel like an extended game of hurry up and wait.  In answering these questions, I often draw upon my experience in recruiting with (what was then) Coopers & Lybrand and Deloitte Consulting to describe how hiring processes really unfold.  Even the most organized and efficient hiring processes take time.  If anything happens along the way, delays result.  For example, let’s take a look at the timeline for what could be seen as an organized and efficient process:

June 1…Posting and job description is posted on the company website and selected job boards with a 30 day run and July 1 application deadline.

July 1…Screening of resumes begins with the goal of identifying 10 candidates to receive phone screens.

July 7…Candidates to receive phone screens are selected.  Phone screens are scheduled for July 7 to 21.

July 21…Phone screens completed and the best 5-7 candidates are selected for initial interviews.  Interviews will be scheduled during July 21 to August 7.

August 7…Initial interviews completed and 3 candidates selected for final interviews.

August 21…Final interviews completed and offer candidate selected.  Offer made and accepted.  Candidate requests 3 weeks notice with current employer before starting new job.

September 14…Candidate begins new job!

As you can see, the organized, efficient hiring process described above easily could take over 3 and a half months.  When you add in the possibility of vacations, work conflicts on both sides, and other examples of Murphy’s Law, not to mention the occasional reality of budget cuts and changing priorities, 3 and a half months can easily turn into 5 or 6.  What can candidates do?  What should recruiters do?

Candidates: Be sure to send follow-up emails and even personal notes to every person with whom you interview.  As the process moves along, send an occasional email to your recruiting contact reminding him/her of your continued interest in the company and excitement about the position.

Recruiters: Keep in frequent touch with your candidates throughout the process and let them know of any changes in scheduling or deadlines.  While this may sound obvious, if you tell a candidate that you will contact them in 2 weeks, CONTACT THEM IN 2 WEEKS!  Remember: you are marketing your company with your hiring process as well as the way you treat your candidates.

Beginning in January, I resolve to….

Quit smoking.

Eat healthier and lose weight.

Look for a new job.

For many people, New Year’s resolutions abound at this time of the year. All three of the above resolutions are certainly good ideas. Interestingly enough, they also have one thing in common: All three require a plan to succeed.

Some people procrastinate when looking for a new job because they don’t know where to begin or because they think it is too difficult. Some people become frustrated with sending out scores of résumés or responding to countless online job postings with no success. Often, their job searches fail due to the lack of a plan.

If looking for a new job is one of your New Year’s resolutions, begin with a plan. Identify the key drivers of your job search based upon what’s most important to you. Key drivers could be any of the following:

  • Location: The most important thing to me is to remain in this area. I’m open to any company in any industry.
  • Job function: I want to keep doing “what I do” and am open to any industry. I’m also open to other locations.
  • Industry: I want to leverage my industry expertise but in a different job function.

Obviously, your plan may be one of these or a combination of several. Identifying the key driver of your job search will make it easier to develop a list of companies to target. With this list, you can focus your research and networking efforts.

Looking for a new job still involves a good deal of hard work. However – as with quitting smoking, eating healthier or losing weight – having a plan can help you succeed. Happy New Year and good luck with your resolutions!

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas…

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas; My Job Search Looked Bleak…

 ‘Twas the night before Christmas; my job search looked bleak.

My network was dwindling, which made me feel weak.

My resume listed my jobs and my skills,

And my letters and emails added some frills,

At this point my search had resulted in naught,

It seemed my best contacts had left me to rot.

And so while the snow did fall silent and wet,

I forgot all my worries and chose not to fret.

My children were nestled all snug in their beds

With presents from bonuses lodged in their heads.

My wife in pajamas and I in my suit

Had just settled in – my computer to boot.

I went to my laptop with intent to begin

Just one final search of what’s new in LinkedIn

I clicked on my profile and scrolled down the screen

And saw my endorsements were woefully lean.

But there to my wondering eyes did appear,

A posting that shifted me into high gear!

A letter I crafted to make me sound great;

This job would be mine – I knew it was fate.

My resume tweaked, I began to apply,

But the job application near caused me to cry.

I entered the info and responded as needed

Till my temperature rose and I soon became heated.

It was then I decided I needed a break

To avoid all the errors I knew I would make.

So my wife and I opened a bottle of wine

And drink it we did as we casually dined.

So now with our spirits most certainly high,

My fingers all over that keyboard did fly.

I continued to feel that this job was a fit,

And so, with a smile, I clicked on “submit”.

Since all through the house there was nary a peep,

It was then I fell into a very deep sleep.

Soon visions of interviews danced in my head;

The recruiters just loved every word that I said.

The questions came fast and some were quite hard,

But none of them bothered this slumbering bard.

And all of them thought that my answers were great:

A terrific addition they knew I would make.

They made me an offer they told me was rare

But, given my skills, they did hope it was fair.

I looked at them all with such confident eyes

And said in a voice that I hoped would sound wise:

“In this job I’m convinced a success I will be

And so I accept with great passion and glee”.

A sound from the house then did cause me to wake

And so a deep breath I did make myself take.

I fought off the urge then to utter a scream,

For might it be true that this job was a dream?

It was then that I heard a loud sound from the roof

It was Santa, his reindeer, and the stomp of a hoof.

With a wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

He gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

Then he uttered these words right before he took flight:

“Happy Job Search to all and to all a good night!”

Looking for a Job? Ditch the Excuses!

I’m sure many Career Coaches have met and worked with people who can come up with a variety of excuses for why they will never be able to be successful in their job searches.  For many people, staying positive is extremely difficult when applying for numerous jobs and receiving no feedback or going on interviews that do not result in job offers.  Difficult or not, it is essential that they ditch the excuses!

Yesterday I  came across a very interesting article in Ladders entitled “Think You Can’t Get a Job?  Think Again” by Rob Sullivan, an author, corporate trainer, inspirational speaker and professional development coach.  In the article, Rob includes some specific suggestions that can help job seekers overcome their negativity as well as focus on the value they can add rather than simply describe the tasks they performed or the roles they have had.  I would urge Career Coaches and job seekers to check out this article.

Enjoy!

Conducting (and Enjoying!) Case Interviews

No, the title of this article is not a misprint.

 Think of case interviews as word problems (remember them?) based on real life business situations.  The case interview is no longer the province of the consulting industry; companies hiring for financial, marketing, operations and even entrepreneurial opportunities are increasingly using case interviews to screen applicants on their ability to think quickly and logically about business problems, demonstrate analytical skills and “comfort with numbers”, and showcase listening and interpersonal skills.  There is a high probability that you will encounter case interviews at some point as you conduct a job search or advance in your career.

Demonstrating that you can “handle” case interviews can help you be viewed as a good candidate.  Demonstrating that you excel at and enjoy case interviews can help you be seen as an excellent candidate. While cases come in many shapes and sizes, two common types of cases involve business strategy/operations and market sizing. Both should be seen as opportunities to demonstrate your overall business acumen as well as industry expertise and insights.

Business strategy/operations cases may present a situation or business problem related to the function for which you are interviewing, but often will require you to address strategic, marketing, operations, and finance areas as well as revenue, cost and profit issues in your answer. Case discussions should be seen as a dialogue that allows you to identify key issues and drivers, ask questions, sift through relevant and irrelevant information gained, and make recommendations you can defend.  An example of this type of case might be something like: “Imagine you are working with a Fortune 1000 company that wants to expand its overseas operations in order to increase its international market share. To do this, they will need to free up a significant amount cash from their current operations to invest in this new direction.  What should the company consider doing to accomplish this?”

Market sizing cases often are used to gauge your comfort with numbers and ability to analyze a market strategically and logically.  You will need to make assumptions, build on information used, and show an understanding of the industry (and business in general) to arrive at a conclusion.  An example of this type of case might be something like: “Imagine you are working with the new CEO of a company that has long been a leader in the manufacturing of audio components for the home and automobiles. He is thinking of jumping into the market for high-end, plasma/high definition televisions.  The approximate price point will be around $12,000.  He wants us to size the market for this type of television and advise him on whether or not to jump in.”

 Here are a few suggestions that can help you “handle” (and perhaps even enjoy!) case interviews:

Your approach often is as important as your result.  Develop a logical approach (or framework) to the case and follow it.  If you feel that the key drivers of this business problem are inventory control, communication with the sales force and coordination between production and marketing personnel, state that at the outset and address each area in that order.

Ask questions and vocalize your thoughts.  Good consultants, general managers or entrepreneurs do not make decisions based on limited data.  Ask questions in a way that demonstrates your knowledge of the area and don’t assume that the interviewer can read your mind (a vast majority can not).

 Pick up on cues from your interviewer.  If your interviewer tells you “I think you have addressed the inventory control issue quite well. What else would you look at?”, don’t ignore the suggestion and single-mindedly pursue inventory control in more detail.

I hope you found this information to be helpful. Enjoy your case interviews!

 

Millennials Will Do Great Things; They’ll Just Do Them Differently

Much has been written about the Millennial Generation and how they are different from generations that preceded them.  Since this generation is made up of people roughly in the 20 to 35 year age range, they represent a very wide span of career situations, goals and objectives. They are now the largest generation ever and are likely to comprise 75% of the workforce by 2025, so understanding how best to hire, manage and retain them can become a critical competitive advantage.

While doing some research for a workshop I’m developing for my VCU students and alumni , I came across three excellent articles that provide some very insightful and practical advice and suggestions.  They are as follows:

“10 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring Millennials”,  by Sarah Landrum

“11 Tips for Managing Millennials”,  by Heathfield

“This Is How Millennials Want To Be Managed”, by Rob Reuteman

Enjoy!

Leveraging LinkedIn To Enhance Your Networking

What do you most want people to know about you?

The answer to this question is what should drive the information you include in your networking conversations, resume, cover letters and, most assuredly, your LinkedIn profile.  Why LinkedIn? Because according to Execunet, “LinkedIn is the number one place to build your personal brand.  Your personal brand is what makes you unique, relevant and differentiated”.

Want more?  According to VCU Professor Manika Avasthi, “95% of employers source and vet resumes on LinkedIn.”  In a survey conducted by Reppler Data, “68% of employers surveyed said that they hired someone because of what they saw on a social networking site.”  These quotes, coupled with the fact that LinkedIn has over 300 million members, makes it clear that LinkedIn is where a great many professionals go to learn more about people following a brief conversation, job application or interview.

Think of LinkedIn as a different communications and marketing vehicle from your resume, cover letter or even professional bio.  You can accomplish things in your profile you cannot in your resume or cover letter. Be sure to utilize and leverage all sections and opportunities to provide information that can build your personal brand.  Here are a few suggestions:

Include a good quality photo appropriate for the company culture you are seeking.  It looks odd to see a photo on a resume or cover letter; it looks odd NOT to see a photo on a LinkedIn profile.  Your photo also can help people find you quickly, especially if there are numerous people in LinkedIn who have the same name.

Your summary should be aimed at what you can and want to do as well as how you can add value.  It should not focus on what you have done in the past.  Again, it should answer the question “what do I most want people to know about me”?  It also gives you a chance to provide a glimpse into the person behind the resume. You may want to add a “video resume” to your profile.  If you do, keep it very short (one to three minutes) and focus on making the skills or attributes you possess “come alive”.

Your skills section should emphasize skills you bring to the table that are directly relevant to a desired promotion or new job you are seeking.  Make sure that your MOST relevant skills appear at the top based on the number of endorsements they have.  If they don’t, reach out to some of your LinkedIn contacts who have seen you demonstrate these skills, let them know that you are upgrading your profile, and ask them to endorse you for one of these specific skills.

Further emphasize these relevant skills by asking a few of the people who have endorsed you to write a brief recommendation that can be posted on your profile. When requesting them, steer people towards the skills you want emphasized.  This will help prevent them from writing a generic recommendation that is less effective.

In the experience section, don’t cut and paste your resume.  For each of your jobs, provide the employer name, your title and a brief description of your role or a few accomplishments you want to highlight.

Remember: “Networking is not what you know or who you know, but what those who know you know about you” (source: John Worth and other very wise people).

 

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas; My Job Search Looked Bleak

As the holiday season approaches, it seems appropriate to re-post some holiday humor. Enjoy!

‘Twas the night before Christmas; my job search looked bleak.

My network was dwindling, which made me feel weak.

My resume listed my jobs and my skills,

And my letters and emails added some frills,

 

At this point my search had resulted in naught,

It seemed my best contacts had left me to rot.

And so while the snow did fall silent and wet,

I forgot all my worries and chose not to fret.

 

My children were nestled all snug in their beds

With presents from bonuses lodged in their heads.

My wife in pajamas and I in my suit

Had just settled in – my computer to boot.

 

I went to my laptop with intent to begin

Just one final search of what’s new in LinkedIn

I clicked on my profile and scrolled down the screen

And saw my endorsements were woefully lean.

 

But there to my wondering eyes did appear,

A posting that shifted me into high gear!

A letter I crafted to make me sound great;

This job would be mine – I knew it was fate.

 

My resume tweaked, I began to apply,

But the job application near caused me to cry.

I entered the info and responded as needed

Till my temperature rose and I soon became heated.

 

It was then I decided I needed a break

To avoid all the errors I knew I would make.

So my wife and I opened a bottle of wine

And drink it we did as we casually dined.

 

So now with our spirits most certainly high,

My fingers all over that keyboard did fly.

I continued to feel that this job was a fit,

And so, with a smile, I clicked on “submit”.

 

Since all through the house there was nary a peep,

It was then I fell into a very deep sleep.

Soon visions of interviews danced in my head;

The recruiters just loved every word that I said.

 

The questions came fast and some were quite hard,

But none of them bothered this slumbering bard.

And all of them thought that my answers were great:

A terrific addition they knew I would make.

 

They made me an offer they told me was rare

But, given my skills, they did hope it was fair.

I looked at them all with such confident eyes

And said in a voice that I hoped would sound wise:

 

“In this job I’m convinced a success I will be

And so I accept with great passion and glee”.

A sound from the house then did cause me to wake

And so a deep breath I did make myself take.

 

I fought off the urge then to utter a scream,

For might it be true that this job was a dream?

It was then that I heard a loud sound from the roof

It was Santa, his reindeer, and the stomp of a hoof.

 

With a wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

He gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

Then he uttered these words right before he took flight:

“Happy Job Search to all and to all a good night!”

 

Copyright John Worth 2013

 

Resume, Meet the Computer: Top Formatting Tips for ATS

I recently read a very interesting article entitled “Resume, Meet the Computer: Top Formatting Tips for ATS”, by Russell Abbatiello, Career Services and Development Manager at the MGH Institute of Health Professions.  In his article, Russell reminds us of the prevalence of Automated Tracking Systems (ATS) in today’s recruiting processes and offers a number of specific tips that that can prepare your resume for companies’ Applicant Tracking Systems while still retaining some degree of personality.  Some of his tips are:

–  “Use 2-3 word combinations for keywords and put them IN CONTEXT, rather than (or in addition to) a list format.”

–  “Do not include initials-credentials after your name at the top.  The system could confuse these as part of your last name!”

–  “Use full spellings AND abbreviations/acronyms: “Certified Public Accountant  (CPA).”

–  “Keywords tend to perform better when they are placed early on in the resume.”

–  “Move the most relevant and keyword-rich bullets to the top of each description.”

For more tips and suggestions, I would urge you to read the article in its entirety.

Marketing Your Company Through Your Recruiting Process

I recently read a very interesting article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch by Sue Durnwirth entitled “Job Candidates Are Customers, Too”.  The article appeared in the Sunday August 16 edition of the paper.

Having spent 16 years as an undergraduate and graduate recruiter (prior to my most recent roles in university career management and professional development), I must say that I couldn’t agree with Sue more.  In her article, she quoted a number of statistics from surveys conducted by CareerBuilder to back up her view that there often is a disconnect between how managers and business owners view their hiring practices and the experiences candidates have with these same practices.  Here are a few examples:

“Eighty-two percent (of managers surveyed) said there was little or no negative impact to their business if their candidates had a negative experience.”  Compare this to “68 percent (of candidates) agreed that a positive or negative experience during the application process would affect their decision if offered employment by that company.” and that “69 percent would be less likely to buy from the company if they had a bad experience during the interview.”  She goes on to say “If you have ever felt the sting of having your job offer declined by your top candidate, note that this could be critical for winning your piece of the on-going ‘war for talent.”

Many companies, recruiters and H.R professionals became complacent during the recession and in times when unemployment was high.  They felt they were in a “buyer’s market” and that they could hire anyone they wanted because there was little competition for the best people.  News flash: the economy is improving steadily, unemployment continues to be low, the job market is strengthening, and search firms and recruiting agencies are being much more active. Candidates are much more likely to have multiple job offers and will be weighing how they are treated during the hiring process as a key aspect of a company’s culture and how they treat their employees.

I am reminded of one of the nicest compliments my consulting firm at the time received from an outstanding student at a highly ranked MBA school after attending a number of our recruiting events and interview process:  “If you treat your clients they way you treated me as a recruit, I would hire your firm tomorrow.”

It doesn’t get any better than that.