Friday, May 29, 2009

Using social media to help find my next sales job

Every time you turn on the television you here about social media. What social media is essentially online content created by people. It can take the form of blogs, instant messaging, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. In addition to working with folks like me; sales recruiters, it is also important to scout out your contacts on the different websites. Increasingly companies are using social networking to tap into non-traditional job seekers. Sites such as LinkedIn can tell you which companies are looking for employees and who within your network works there or are linked to those individuals.

The key to using these kinds of tools is to use them wisely. LinkedIn allows someone to request a virtual introduction to someone via a link. It is important to properly introduce yourself and the reason for the introduction so that one does not feel that they are bothering their link.

Increasingly there are ads on Facebook. Some of these ads are actual job offers. The key here is to click on the ad down the side when you see it because navigating away from the page may mean that you may not see the ad for a long time. Many companies have their own Facebook page and you can browse to see who works there.

As a recruiter, I often use LinkedIn to find potential employees; hence the need for a complete profile. It reads like a resume. As LinkedIn is a professional site, one should try to put a professional picture which is different for Facebook.

If you’re unemployed, why not start a blog. You want visibility for yourself and a blog could be a good way to go. Try to give something back while you do your daily or weekly musings. Demonstrate that you are an expert or really good at something. Remember to keep your blog as professional as possible. Sharing bits of your personal life is ok but if you’re looking for a job keep it as professional as possible. Employers do Google potential employees. What about following the blogs of some decision makers? What can you learn from a prospective employer or client?

Remember to share your blogs and profiles with interested parties. having an audience will help your job hunting along.

Happy selling

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What to do if you are asked illegal questions in an interview.

Today I spoke to a group of students graduating from an intensive sales program and we touched on illegal questions during a job interview but did not get a chance to elaborate.

Questions based on race, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, birthplace and national origin are illegal questions. In my experience most interviewers ask those questions not to discriminate but to make conversation. I am still amazed how many employers do not know that these questions are illegal.
As an interested candidate these questions puts one in a pickle. There is 1 of 4 options when asked these kinds of questions:

1. You could try to divert the question and hope that the interviewer does not notice. In other words, don’t answer the question. This may not solve your problem as they may come back with the question. If you get away with it, you still need to ask yourself if the question was innocently asked or if there was something “sinister” behind it.

2. You could call the employer “on the carpet” and point out that they are asking an illegal question. This could be confrontational or you could have embarrassed the interviewer.

3. Ask the question “why do you need to know this”? Here you are trying to determine the intent behind the question. There is no delicate way to do this. If the employer wants to know if you have child care issues because you travel for work, let them know that you are aware of the job requirements and can meet them.

4. Answer the question.

These are uncomfortable situations and can be diffused with some humour. If however, there are persistent illegal questions, you need to make a decision as to whether you still want to work there. Whichever option you choose, remain professional even if you end up terminating the interview because you don’t like what you hear. Each of us has to find our comfort zone.

Happy selling

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Should I post my resume online?

Many people ask them self this question. The answer is easy if you are employed-it’s a solid NO! When you are working but in active job search it is not prudent to let your employer know that you are looking. I know that this is elementary but needs to be said because I have seen this happen. Sometimes it’s because the candidate forgot that their resume was online after they secured them self a position.

For those candidates who are new to the market such as new graduate, why not. Keep in mind that there are national, local and industry specific job boards and the people that use them may be quite different. The candidate should not forget to post at any professional associations in their industry as well.

There are some safeguards that should always be followed because your personal information will be out there for anyone with access to the different job boards to have:

• It would be prudent to omit your address but leave in email and telephone number where you can be reached. Do I need to say not to post any other personal information? I see resumes with date of birth, marital status etc. That’s nobody’s business.

• You will get many offers with no base salary, insurance sales and perhaps some scams. When you decline an offer, do it with class and thank the person for contacting you. You never know who they know.

• Ensure that you use keywords so that your resume percolates to the top. If you are a sales manager in the tooling industry, make sure that those words feature in the title of the resume or your posting.

This advice works well for those that are new to the market or unemployed. Those that are working or more senior people should consider twice before posting their resume online. Of course posting your resume to a recruiter’s website is different. This is only visible to employees of the firm and should not be sent out without an interview and your permission.

We recruiters sometimes find candidates on job boards too so there are some definite benefits to posting online. There are some job boards that allow you to post your resume online anonymously and I have seen some candidates create an email account just for job hunting.

Posting online should be just one of the ways that you look for a job and keep in mind that looking for a new job is almost a full time job.

Pet Peeves (and somewhat off topic)
• Sending your resume to several recruitment firms but not Bccing everyone. Why not personalize each one.
• Sending a resume to me while addressed to someone else

Happy selling