|On Staff USA Blog
It’s the Holidays, the time where you normally reach out and send messages of “Thanks” and ” Good Cheer” to people in your personal life.
Have you taken a moment to think about doing it in your professional life?
I’m NOT talking about a “Christmas Carol meets your Resume or LinkedIn Profile”. WEIRD. If that’s what you are thinking – you might want to slow up on the Egg Nog.
However – there will be some people who have had a positive impact on your career – who have reached out a hand when they didn’t have to, who worked a little behind the scenes mojo in your favor and made a way for you where there was none, who did the business Bewitched equivalent of wiggling their nose just a teeny bit, and helping make your path just a little bit straighter.
Maybe they pulled you aside and gave you a bit of advice that in that moment kept you from doing something completely career suicidal. Perhaps it was the listening ear when you were upset, tired, worn out and angry. Maybe – just maybe – they were the person who said – “You are in the wrong job. You will never be great doing this. You need to be doing that. Go do *that* and there will be no limit to what you can do.”
Most times – those interactions go un-thanked. They get a nod at best. They are rarely acknowledged for what they are – which are seminal moments for people; those quick flashes in time that change everything.
I suspect if more people took the time to appreciate the investment that someone had made in them – perhaps these moments, these path changing instants would be more prevalent.
Perhaps we are not taught to say thank you well. Or nearly often enough.
But this Holiday season – as you close out your year – I encourage you to think about the people who have had the biggest impact on your career. Odds are good – they may be the people who you count on to be your references – it often follows that the people who know you best – have seen you at both your best and worst.
Take a moment to think about how you can thank them honestly for their contribution to your career. Is it a card? Maybe they would like just a coffee and quick – “Thanks”. I’ve got one that would really rather I just sent something funny on FaceBook and a case of craft beer.
Why? Why do it at all? Because you appreciate them investing in you. The list of people who will care enough about you to do that is a lot shorter than the list of people you know in business. So take a moment to thank the ones who do invest in you because it made a difference in your life.
Give your “Business Fairy God Parents” a gift back. The gift of honest appreciation. It may be the very best present they receive this Holiday Season.
I want to discuss what you share with your recruiter.
It’s been a subject that’s been kicking around in my mind a bit after a college student made a bush league error during college recruiting season several weeks ago – that deeply cost him – and has really bothered be for what it said about candidates/recruiters and relationships.
Here is what started the whole issue – Original article here is linked below and the commentary over there is lively BTW – but I’ve freely swiped the email for the purposes of this blog:
We talked a couple weeks back at the UW-Milwaukee accounting night. (I was the one looking for equity research positions and had a zit on my lip that could have passed for a cold sore. Lol. Whew. It was not. You’re probably like, “uh.. What?” Maybe that helps you recall, maybe not. Not completely important, I suppose.
Anyways, if you have a chance here is my question: (background first) I interviewed with BDO and Baker Tilly today, two firms that seem like good places to work, I believe they don’t kill you like a big 4. Tomorrow I have an interview with Deloitte :O somewhere I thought I’ve always wanted to work. Obviously I don’t have an offer so this is all hypothetical thinking, but if I get the job, the reality of the situation is that I’m getting old. 25. I know you can’t force love and I know it just comes when you’re not looking, but would working for a big four completely squash any possibilities for potential relationships if one came along? Is working for a big four a potential career – love trade off? I mean, I like money(as do most females) but love is…great What are your thoughts?
Please note – the candidate in question is a male college student, the recruiter is a female they met at an evening event.
Some people have reacted with the – “That’s not a real email!” response. While I might grant you the meme of the Yeti on the Unicorn was photo shopped – NOT EVERYTHING on the web is photo shopped and after 21 years in HR I can promise – not every “cuckoo-for-cocoa puffs” candidate letter, is a fake.
Trust me on this. If there is an HR Policy for it – It’s happened *at least* once.
There is a reason I came in on a Monday to a new sign over the coffee pot at one workplace that read “Do not drink from the carafe – it’s a communal pot. Not a mug.” There was also a reason why I brought an illegal coffee pot to my workplace after that, hid it behind my desk and brewed my own. GACK. No THANK YOU – not a fan of Cooties.
Goofy HR policies exist for a reason. Do I believe this a real candidate letter? I have no reason not to. I have read weirder.
The recruiters I’ve talked to about this particular email have had a vigorous debate on whether this is a good letter or a bad letter.
For a lot of us – if you have a great relationship with your recruiter – this letter is a “no big deal” – your recruiter will laugh, and no one thinks anything of it. It certainly doesn’t end up on the bathroom wall – or brobible.com for Pity’s sake.
That’s the issue really. Clearly this new grad did not have the relationship with his recruiter he thought he had.
The folks on the bad letter side of the aisle clearly end up there because it’s a relationship/misunderstanding problem.
He clearly misunderstood that relationship. Was it a gender thing? Was it an age thing? Did he misunderstand that a corporate recruiter’s *first* obligation is to hire the right person on behalf of her corporation?
Don’t get me wrong – some of my dearest friends – I met as candidates or hiring managers while recruiting.
Recruiting and HR have brought the most amazing people into my life. Had they – or I – been afraid to have the type of honest exchange this candidate *attempted* to have had – we may never have become friends. But misjudging the relationship allowing for this exchange? That mistake leads to things like this email going viral.
This email is painful in it’s honesty. It’s coltish, hopeful, hopes and dreams just spilling about in a stream of consciousness full of jagged un-sanded edges. If he had a recruiter he could have trusted with all of this – this email would not have been all over the web. If he had someone who understood he was anxious and maybe a bit unseasoned – needed the hand-holding or to be told – “Hold on – WE DON’T. Calm down.”
That isn’t what he had. He didn’t have the “House Mom” or “Coach” he seems to have needed. He had someone who whether they meant to or not damaged his career chances by spreading his anxiety – I am assuming by simply forwarding the email – but it went viral. I’m guessing it quickly got out of their control. Companies all over Wall St. have it.
The whole situation is sad.
First – hopefully you have checked out your recruiter before you started working with them. You have read their profile on LinkedIn – you know what people have to say about working with them or you have been referred to them by someone whose judgment you trust.
Second – Trust your gut instincts about whether this is a concern you should share. What’s it telling you?
Regardless of both 1 and 2 – Please – don’t send an *email* like this to anyone involved in your job search. You control what you share and how it’s shared.
If you are anxious – and these types of things are your questions – call your recruiter and *ask* them verbally.
The right recruiter will put your mind at ease and help talk you off a ledge you have managed to get yourself on. You never know when you might make a friend that lasts decades – not just for a job search.
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I’ve had this conversation with several candidates in the last few weeks when they have called up at the last minute – torqued up and anxious – for their final round interviews.
Some candidates work themselves into a dither of anxiety and knots – their fear almost certainly going to undo their candidacy. Others actually have gotten themselves so overly self-confident – that if they go into the interview in that mental state – it’s clear they are going to blow this whole campaign.
And we end up having some version – as appropriate – of the “Don’t get picked last for Dodge ball” conversation.
Final rounds are NOT just about can you do the job. By now – they have figured out you probably can do 85% of it. The question is – do they want to teach you the last 15% of it. The answer comes from them spending time with you while they ask themselves – can I spend 40 hours a week with this person.
That’s the professional question if you are interviewing for a regular job.
If it’s a busy, travel intensive, hour intensive, soul-eating job? They are interviewing you thinking – “Can I spend more time with this person than my spouse? Do I want to spend nights and weekends with this person? Am I going to want to go to Europe, Canada – and (no offense to New Jersey) painful layovers at Newark with this person?”
You should too. If you are sitting in your car in the parking lot – before your final round interview – you need to be thinking the same thing. You are interviewing this team, this hiring manager – for work-spouse status as well.
The final round interview is not the time for a mindset of fear or arrogance.
It’s time for a calm determination of – “I’m not getting picked last for Dodge ball. I’m good at what I do or I wouldn’t be here. My goal for the next 3 hours is to be as charming, likable and as “ME” as I know how.”
If they don’t like you for you – YOU shouldn’t be working there. But during this last round – you need to absolutely be YOU at your winning, most happy shiny best.
Give the hiring team a reason to rule you in. Give them a reason to CHOOSE you. You know what makes you “YOU at INCANDESCENTLY GREAT”. Be that at final rounds. Be MORE of YOU.
If you do that – the right things will happen.
Don’t get picked last for Corporate Dodge ball. You have this.
Well – for starters – congratulations! That’s a really big deal – and you should take a minute to celebrate it. There are so many candidates for each role anymore – that making it to the on-site round is actually a HUGE thing. It means you have a fighting chance to win this role.
You are IN THIS. So – this job is yours to lose – OR – win. A good share of this – is now in your head – via your preparation and your attitude.
You aren’t going to prepare for an interview with an article – not long enough. And there are so many different interview styles – that one article can’t possibly cover them all. No – sorry those of you who don’t like to read – but truly preparing for an interview – requires a book, a mirror and a really good friend.
My favorite book on interviewing is “Sweaty Palms – the Neglected Art of Being Interviewed.” It’s an old book. Very Old. Written by a trial attorney of all things. The best way to get it anymore is via Kindle download from Amazon. It’s so old you should ignore anything on how to dress and PLEASE ignore the entire section on Thank You Notes – dated and I would argue – wrong headed.
BUT – this book is great for giving you sample questions, helping you understand the perspective of the interviewer, and contributing to your self-confidence. Some people still do practice stress interviews – a technique LONG out of favor – and a quick skim through that section before an interview process always reminds me of overall techniques and strategies just in case it comes up. Sure enough – that practice came in handy when I ran into a former GE person on an interview panel – who trained in the stress interview in the ancient past – brought it out.
I like the book because it doesn’t tell you to lie. Some interview books will suggest that you fib and there is NOTHING and I mean nothing – worse than that in an interview. Don’t lie in an interview. There are always going to be things in your past you are less excited to talk about – this book helps you have those conversations without you feeling compelled to fudge anything. This is critically important since a great recruiter can always smell a lie. Once your recruiter smells a lie? You are finished.
A great recruiter will go back and tell the hiring manager that they will live and die on the hill of “No Offer Under any Circumstances” to you as a candidate if they smell a lie. They might not be able to articulate what you lied about or why the warning bells are going off – but the best recruiters have relationships with their managers and will tell them – “You are just going to need to trust me on this one – something’s wrong.”
So – get the book. Read it. If you don’t get this book – get a book but read the reviews about it carefully before you do because there is a LOT of snake oil interview books out there.
Whatever interview book you get – practice your answers. First in the car to and from work. There is something about the silence of drive time and no one around that allows you to hear your own answer – and it makes you play and replay it – until you get the bones of your answer – just right. Next – start practicing your answer in front of a mirror. You may well be surprised that you have interpersonal communication tics you did not know you had until you watch yourself in the mirror.
Lastly – borrow a friend. When you have practiced in your car and in front of a mirror – borrow a friend who’s judgment you trust – to do a mock interview of you. Ask them what they think of your answers. Tell them not to sugar coat it. MEAN it when you tell them that. They don’t do you any favors by sugar coating. If you don’t get the job because you didn’t improve – it wasted everyone’s time.
In a period of time where you have to fight a huge field of candidates to win your way to an on-site interview slot – don’t waste that slot. Prepare for your chance. Treat it strategically. Go win this job. I assume you really wanted it in the first place. You know why you are the right person for the job. Now go make sure the Hiring Team knows why you are right person. You are IN This. You want it. Go get it.
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