Any time? Never!

How do you respond when invited to interview? Promptly and professionally are two winning ideas, of course. How would you respond to this question?

When are you available to come in for an interview?

Be smart. Don’t say, “Any time!”

I recently had a conversation with a hiring manager. We discussed this response to the scheduling question, and the answer above created concern. Here’s why.

This person who is currently employed sent a clear message: I will call out from my current job to come meet with you. How else should the hiring manager take this?

There is a lesson here. Take a more professional approach. Be a bit less available, even if you are not working. Try the following approach instead.

“I don’t want to leave my current employer short-handed, so can we do something on Wednesday, my day off, or a late afternoon when I can get out early without causing problems?”

The point is simple. This is an early opportunity to show professionalism. Don’t mess it up by acting careless about your responsibilities.

What if you are not working and you have an open schedule? Consider how this will appear. Even in this situation, be less available. Try a variation of the following.

“I have a busy schedule as I am active in my search. I can meet Tuesday morning, Thursday afternoon, or Friday morning. Are any of these times good?”

The point might seem minor, but it’s not. It was a true concern for this hiring manager, so avoid making the same mistake. Be professional in every interaction, both in what you say and do directly and what you might be allowing others to infer about your reliability and commitment.

When Recruiters Find You on LinkedIn

This could be the shortest blog post I’ve written, but the message is important. If you are not on LinkedIn, why not? You are making it tough for recruiters to find you, and opportunity could be passing you by. Here is a quick story to make the point.

One of my clients recently completed a graduate degree program in an in-demand field. She updated her LinkedIn profile as soon as she graduated. Within two weeks, she was contacted by a recruiter for a position that would be a step up in her career, a move made possible by the new degree.

She agreed to meet the employer and took the interview appointment. Less than a week later, she received a verbal job offer with a significant salary increase. This would not have happened without the LinkedIn update and a well-written profile. It’s that simple.

Are you on LinkedIn? Does your profile showcase your skills and experience? Is it current? If not, why not?

Job Search? Know Your Numbers.

The new year brings to many thoughts of a new job. “Collect the bonus, fire the boss, and move on to something better” is the plan. If this describes you, and you are reading this blog, you certainly know you need a good resume. Once you submit it, though, you need to be ready for the call that might come from a potential employer. This means knowing your salary numbers, those that will help you decide to move or not.

More and more clients report to me that they are being asked about salary requirements during the first conversation, so it is wise to be ready. Think about your salary goals ahead of time in anticipation of the inevitable question. Here are the big numbers to have memorized.

Your current salary with bonuses, if any. Employers will ask, so be prepared to speak about it.

Your targeted salary. Employers know almost every candidate is seeking a pay increase as part of the job search. In today’s market, where talent is in short supply and there is competition for the best people, you have negotiating strength. Know your goal without being greedy. You don’t want to knock yourself out of consideration early in the process.

Your minimum salary expectation. It’s your walk-away number. If the company will not meet this requirement, you should be prepared to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” End the conversation to save everyone’s time.

There are many variables that will affect your numbers, especially the minimum. If you are currently employed and doing well, you can command more. If you are unemployed or older, you might want to be more flexible. If you have been out of work for more than a few months, you might need to consider a number at the low end of your range. Be flexible.

Base your numbers on research. While it is not always easy to target salary expectations precisely, there is information available to help. Check Glassdoor.com to find shared salary information from people who have worked for the company. Use LinkedIn to find people who do the same or similar work. Job groups on LinkedIn to ask questions from people who might know.

Don’t forget to monitor targeted company names in the news. You might be able to glean information from media coverage that will help. A story about the company struggling to find people is one example. This information gives you negotiating confidence.

There is much to consider, but the work will be worth it. With good research and an understanding of the market, you can boost your salary with confidence by completing a successful job hunt. All the best for a successful 2019.

= = =

Bill Florin is president of Resu-mazing Services Company. He has written thousands of resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles for clients since 2009.

Be True to You

When do you stop doing what you do because you feel you have? When will you start doing what fulfills you and uses your talents? When will you stop chasing the paycheck and start pursuing your dreams?

We are getting into the final days of the year, a natural time to reflect on the past and plan for success. If you are feeling the tension, the dissonance of not spending your days doing what you are best at, what are you going to do differently next year?

Are you living for the weekend, or doing what you love?

This is an important question. So many people are slogging through daily drudgery, living for the weekend. We come alive Friday afternoon and spend Sunday anticipating Monday with dread.

There are many reasons why people do not like their jobs. A bad boss, low pay, limited advancement opportunities, and lack of recognition all contribute. For many, though, the stress, often rising to despair, comes from being in the wrong kind of job. Our work does not align with our interests, skills and values. In an article concerning the drivers of job satisfaction, SHRM reports that the opportunity to do work maximizing our skills and interests is a top consideration for both women and men.

If you are going to make a change, consider satisfaction, purpose and fulfillment before making the move. Here are some ideas on how to start.

Interests: What do you like to do? Do you work well with your hands? Do you like spending time with people? Do you enjoy managing projects? Take time, ideally over days or weeks, to think about this. Jot down ideas as they come. Maybe you will think of additional interests as you go through your current work. The idea is simple; you want to generate a list of interests that can give you insight for your next step.

Skills: For many people, this is easier. We know from experience, performance feedback received, our reputation, and other input what we do well. Many of us also know what we don’t do so well. Note these too. Be aware of what to avoid when you are considering options.

Values: Values can include many things. Your faith might inform you. Your politics could be important. How you are perceived by friends, family and community members could be important to you. These ideas could steer you toward or away from options. Industries or companies could be added to or removed from your search list. Ask yourself this question: “I can bring my skills almost anywhere, so why would I want to bring them there?”

Assessment: You can probably generate a long list of interests and skills on your own, but there is help online. For a free assessment, visit mynextmove.org. Answer a series of questions to generate possible career options.

If a new job is part of your plan for the new year, do the hard work of considering all this. The effort will be worth it, and could keep you from jumping from a job you dislike into a job you hate.

= = =

Do you need help considering your next career move? Contact Bill Florin at Resu-mazing Services Company for comprehensive career coaching and development services.

A Tale of Two Searches

Learn from the experiences of two of my clients who accepted job offers from Fortune 50 companies this week. The stories are remarkably similar and offer the job seeker in today’s economy a few lessons.

My first client has invested his entire career into business analysis, helping companies understand what’s happening and how they can use systems to optimize business processes and results. Based on the stories he told me of saving money, improving productivity, enhancing customer service, and continually finding new ways to work smarter, he has been a great employee. Certainly, he has earned more than his paycheck in the contributions he made over the years.

The second client has a technology focus, making devices communicate with each other in complex environments and helping clients get the most from their IT investments. Again, his career has been focused on this work, he is good at what he does, and he has the awards and performance reviews to prove it.

Though their career paths are different, their experiences were similar. Whatever you do in your life’s work, you can probably expect to face the same. Here are the key points I took from both.

Be Patient. These two clients interviewed with household-name companies, and both faced multiple rounds of interviews: one four, the other five. Not only was patience important due to the number of interviews, it was important because it took time. “You’ve done well, and I want to have you meet with the director. He’s out of town next week, so we’ll see what we can do to get you back in about two weeks.” Two, three or four delays like this makes for a long hiring process. The seeker is anxious to move along in the process; the employer is rarely so eager.

There Will be a Test. Maybe more than one. Both companies used online assessments to aid in the hiring decision. These personality and work style assessments are becoming more common, so take a little time to understand their purpose and what you can expect. They can measure emotional factors, your ability to work well under stress and with others, technical aptitude, and any number of other criteria the employer views as relevant. The cost of a bad hire is high, so the effort and expense are worth it to them. For you, it means more work and the potential for elimination.

Keep Your Search Active. While both clients felt early on that they were doing well, neither was willing to assume the hiring process would end in their favor. It can be tempting to slow down when a potential job looks likely. Don’t do it. I have seen people go three, four or five rounds only to be told, “We are holding off on filling this position,” or, “We went with an internal candidate.” It happens. A lot.

Blocking and Tackling. Or, more appropriately, follow up and thank you notes are important. Most people do a pretty good job interviewing, at least if they are qualified for the position. Many, though, fall short when it comes to post-interview communication. Be sure to keep employer contacts warm and active with solid, timely, error-free notes, emails or cards. When appropriate, try to add value at each touch point. Show you want the job. You might refer to an article you read or an idea you’ve had. Both did this and felt better about being active at keeping the conversation going.

The difficult truth is that job searching is a challenging, thankless task until you get the job. Realize you aren’t alone, though. If you need to connect with others, find a networking group or job search work team. Check with your state’s employment services office for ideas. Having a friend who is facing the same challenges can make a big difference in a months-long search campaign.

As for our two clients, both have offers in hand. They both start their new positions around New Year’s and are looking forward to getting back to work. Keep at your search, and you will soon be doing the same.

Differentiate Your Way to the Interview

Cans of bubbly, brown sugar water. Big stores where they sell hammers, plywood and toilet seats. Men’s black dress socks.

What is the difference? Coke or Pepsi? Home Depot or Lowes? Gold Toe or, uh…

The difference is all about the message the marketing teams of these companies create and blast out to the world. They tell us, through their marketing channels, ads, promotions and sponsorships, what they want us to know so we can make a distinction and a purchase decision. This is exactly what everyone searching for a new job must accomplish, too.

As I write this, we are in the final week of June. All those fresh, young college graduates have hit the market, ready to share their stories of internships, advanced PowerPoint skills, and, you can bet, excellent written and verbal communication skills. They all present themselves so similarly that a random selection from the electronic resume pile is probably as effective a way to select candidates as any other. The dart throw might beat the stock (uh, employee) picking.

So how do you differentiate yourself so you don’t seem like everyone else? Use current, marketable, valued skills and examples of times you have used them. This has not changed, but many people do not understand this vital, core deliverable of the effective resume.

Let me put it simply. You must tell recruiters what makes you special and different, not the same as everyone else. Answer this question: Why you? If you can make the case, you have successfully differentiated your way in the recruiter’s (read: buyer’s) mind. That can lead to the interview, a series of successful conversation, and a job offer.

If you want to be the human equivalent of a black-and-white generic can of “Cola,” just list your responsibilities and call it a day. If you want to stand out with a distinctive message and value proposition, if you want to be something an employer wants to buy, sell yourself with accomplishments and results. If you can do it, the interviews will come.

= = =

Bill Florin is president of Resu-mazing Services Company. He has written more than 500 resume packages for clients since 2009.

Your Resume Does 2 Things Well & 1 Not At All

There are limits on what your resume does in a job search. A resume can do at least two things very well, but one of them is not get you a job. This is an important distinction that should help job seekers decide where and how to invest their time and energy in the job search process.

Before we move any further, understand what a resume is. It is a marketing document. No different than advertising in other areas of life – the slick brochures at the car dealer, the glossy mutual fund promotional materials your broker gives you, and the constant bombardment of digital marketing – it is created with the purpose of getting a potential employer interested in a job seeker.

Here are the two things a well-written resume does very well:

First, it gets a potential employer to contact you. The employer has a need, an open position with a sets of skills, experience, and qualifications defining potentially successful candidates. Your resume, if it is targeted and fine-tuned to match the employer’s need, can get a recruiter to call you. That is exactly what you want it to do. From that point forward, your resume becomes much less important as you sell yourself based on your interviews, interactions, and follow up.

This brings us to the second benefit of your resume: a terrific interview. If written well, if it presents a compelling blend of stories to support the skills you claim to have, it will help influence the interviews you will face before getting an offer. This requires thought about the content of your resume, of course, in that you should share stories that will stimulate interest and conversation.

Don’t say, “I can build Excel spreadsheets.” Rather, say, “Built a macro-enabled Excel spreadsheet to automate routine auditing processes, saving approximately two hours of work daily.”

In the former example, you haven’t said much. In the latter, you explained how you used a skill to make a tangible difference that made work more efficient, people more productive, and maybe saved some money. If the potential employer wants someone with Excel skills, you might be asked to explain the project in more detail. This is where you get to shine!

The second benefit of a great resume is arguably more valuable than the first. While many people get calls, many fail to land an offer because they do not interview well. A strong interview filled with engaged conversation by both parties, rather than something resembling interrogation, is more likely to lead to a happy outcome.

So, what is it that a resume does not do? It will not get you the job. It will get you the chance to discuss the job, but it will not get you to the offer. Nobody ever or anywhere has said, “Wow! This is such a great resume. Let’s just make an offer without interviewing the candidate.”

Knowing this, it stands to reason that networking, interviewing, follow-up, and salary negotiating skills are as important in the successful search. Do not discount the value of a strong resume, but don’t be over-reliant on what it does for you, either. Preparation and persistence in all areas of the job hunt are well worth the effort.

= = =

Bill Florin is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), Certified Employment Interview Professional, and founder of Resu-mazing Services Company in Monroe, Connecticut. Contact Bill at contact@resu-mazing.com for a free job search strategy consultation.