Unexpected Layoffs Prove Why It Pays To Be Prepared

Posted: August 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Career Coach, Job Search Networking, Resume Advice | Comments Off on Unexpected Layoffs Prove Why It Pays To Be Prepared

I was working late one night last week when the office phone rang and, out of habit, I picked it up. On the other line was a client I worked with months ago who was surprised to hear my voice. The first thing she said was, “I thought I’d get your voice mail calling this late.”

When I looked at the clock it was 7:30p.m., so much for calls going to our voice answering system after 5:30p.m. Thank goodness we had the chance to speak, what she shared is valuable for many professionals given today’s economic challenges. She was informed a week before that she would lose her position, after 15 years with the company, along with hundreds of other professionals. If you think it’s only their company, think again.

douple dip recessionDouble Dip Anyone?

When I was young, and now actually, I loved those dipped cones at Dairy Queen. Who wanted just chocolate ice cream on a cone when it could be dipped in chocolate?  Give me the choice between just one recession and what looks like a double dip recession – at least from an employment perspective and I’ll take the single thank you very much.  As 67% of employers announce their plans to increase hiring in the next 12 months, this month also held news of new layoffs in finance, technology, banking, pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries as well as the government. These sweeping job losses are spreading farther than our borders, they are hitting abroad reaching into Europe as well.  Just this month Goldman Sachs, HSBC and Blackberry all announced layoffs coupled with offshoring by G.E., who has said the offshore plans will not affect U.S. job (and I’m as successful as Oprah).

The effects hitting states are being felt close to home as well. While Connecticut sent out layoff notices to shed 6,500 employees on July 12th, just this morning I sat in a local park having coffee with a meter maid that had 20 years of tenure with the City of Chicago, until yesterday when she was given two weeks notice and two weeks pay. August 30, 2011 will be her last day of employment after which she’ll be back on the streets but this time it’ll be to look for a new job rather than to write tickets.

Expect The Unexpected

When I chatted with Lisa* that night, she said “I never thought this would happen. I never thought this would be where I was sharing my resume.” She was calling to thank me for coaching her months before and for creating a resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile that she had shared 18 times in the past week. 18 times! I was astounded that she had leveraged her resume and LinkedIn profile to that extent so quickly. She went on to say, “This isn’t something people think about.” and “There’s one job, three people already have the same job and only one is going to get it. It’s crazy. You’re competing with your co-workers for the job.”

She wanted to thank me for helping get her ready for the unexpected. Here was this tornado of organizational change swirling around her and she was able to remain calm knowing that she was ready to put her best foot forward day one despite the emotions that accompany ‘losing’ your job after 15 yrs. of loyalty to a company you truly love and appreciate.  It all worked out for Lisa, she’s been offered at new position that she’s excited about. It literally does pay to be prepared, and in Lisa’s case, it paid off with a new job at the company she loves, and with a 10% salary increase.

3 Ways You Can Be Prepared

1. Avoid Comfort – If you’re feeling like everything’s great and you’re cruising along comfortable everyday, chances are something is going to change. Be ready for the next change and always be looking to create that change rather than respond to it. Do you think Ted Turner sat around being comfortable on his way to creating CNN?

2. Get Your Resume Ready – The #1 myth in this business is clients are unemployed. 90% of my clients are actively employed professionals looking to up their game and stay on top of what’s next for them. Have your resume ready to go when a great opportunity comes your way; otherwise that opportunity will go to someone else who has theirs ready to go.

3. Stay Connected – Kids, Exercise, Work, Hobbies, Social Networking. How are you supposed to find time to stay connected with colleagues and associates? It’s a matter of making the time. 80-84% of today’s jobs are found through networking; if you stay connected regularly it makes it that much easier to activate your network when you need them. Dedicate 30 mins. each week to networking.

Kicked Out of the Interview Process by Phone Screening

Posted: August 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Career Coach, Interview Tips, Phone Interviews, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Kicked Out of the Interview Process by Phone Screening

I was sitting in my office looking out the window working on a candidate’s resume when my phone rang. On the other line was one of my “insiders”. The “insiders” are a group of hiring managers at Fortune 500, small business and growth-focused companies who regularly make hiring decisions.

These insiders allow me to give you, active job seekers, a real-world perspective on what today’s hiring managers are actually looking for in candidates. This particular call came from Alex (that’s not his real name but for the sake of anonymity, let’s go with it). Alex is a senior executive at a Fortune 500 company that has a plethora of openings and seems to always be in hiring mode (yes, even in today’s market). He was fired up!

How The Candidate Landed The Interview

Candidate Joe was referred by one of Alex’s closest friends giving him a significant leg up on the competition. His chances only got better when Alex saw that Joe held a similar position he was hiring for and, better yet, at one of their top competitors. To sum up what Alex said to me, “there was an 85% likelihood he would have gotten hired unless he completely blew the interview.”

Losing a Job You Basically Already Have

Today’s market is so competitive that companies often hire third parties to conduct phone screens, phone interviews and the like.  This is how Alex’s company filters through the hundreds and thousands of resumes, including those which are personally referred.  Candidate Joe was put through the usual phone screening interview and, thinking he had an “in”, he blew off one of the questions. No problem, right? After all, he knew a senior level executive, was referred by one of the guy’s closest friends, and currently held a similar position at a top competitor. In his mind, this was a done deal. The interview was mere formality.

What Happened to The Perfect Candidate?

One of the questions in the phone screening interview asked Joe “Give an example of when you’ve had to retain a customer by providing excellent customer service.” He provided no response to this question. All candidates must answer every question in order to be considered for hire. Due to his lack of response, he’s ineligible for hire for the next 6 months in this position.  I bet Joe was surprised when he received the following email following his phone interview: “Dear Candidate, thank you for your interest in the position. The original screening indicates there was not a match between your skills and our needs. You will be eligible to apply in six months. We encourage you to apply on our website for other positions.”

Advice for all Candidates

Every step in the hiring process has a meaning, whether you understand or appreciate that step or not, it’s there for a reason.  Ignoring a question that may seem “silly” or “stupid” to you can clearly be the end of your path with a company that you have all the skills and expertise to be a valuable hire to, no matter who you know and at what level. It’s imperative to remember that we all put our pants on one leg at a time, and every person in the process has a say in who gets hired.