Job Search: Don’t Get Hung Up On The Phone Screen

Phone InterviewCountless times, I’ve heard clients say to me “It’s just a phone interview.” Just a phone interview! Like it’s no big deal. Well it is a big deal, because if you don’t make it through what’s also known as the phone screen, you don’t get the face to face interview, which means  you also don’t get the job.

The phone screen has become a rite of passage for someone making a career transition. Before a recruiter decides to advance your resume to his or her client, before an HR professional sends you to the hiring manager, before a hiring manager takes the time to meet with you in person, there has to be a phone interview.

In today’s competitive market, the phone screen is necessary to whittle down the pool of candidates. Without some sort of screening mechanism, no work would be done, there would just be interviewing. That means the phone screen is not to be taken lightly.

A common mistake made by job seekers is not taking the phone interview seriously enough. How do you prep for a phone interview? The same way you would get ready for a face to face encounter. Research the company, prepare to answer questions about your background complete with anecdotes, and have questions ready for the interviewer.

The disadvantage of a phone interview is you don’t have the visual cues like body language, to see how your answers are going over. But there are some benefits. You can have notes in front of you that highlight your successes and why you’re a perfect fit for the position. In addition you can have your own questions written out so you don’t forget to cover everything.

Another thing you can do on a phone interview that you can’t do in person, without looking mildly insane, is to smile and stand up while your speaking. Smiling and standing dramatically improve your delivery. Smiling adds a positive energy to your voice while standing adds more power. They’re two simple tricks, but if you’re doing them and your competition isn’t you’ll be the stand out candidate.

~Linda

Leaving Money on the Table? 5 Negotiating Tips to Ensure You Don’t

Money On The TableYou’ve gone the distance, made it through multiple rounds of interviews, met with peer level executives, perhaps people who will be reporting to you and, depending on your level in the organization, sat down with some board members. This is the time where the rubber meets the road . . . the negotiation.

I’ve worked with hundreds of seasoned executives, many of whom are hardball negotiators when it comes to negotiating on behalf of their companies, but when the deal is about their own compensation, that’s when things really get personal. Surprisingly, I’ve had to encourage some of my clients to counter the offer instead of accepting the initial package, which brings me to the number one rule in negotiation:

1. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Many of the decision makers I’ve spoken with say they expect an executive to counter the offer, especially if that executive will be representing the company in future deals. The thing to remember is that asking is very different from demanding. It doesn’t hurt to ask for an increased base, incentive or performance bonus, or more vacation time; but when you demand these things, the tone of the negotiation changes. If you ask and the company can’t comply with your requests, the worst case scenario is they say “this is the best we can do, take it or leave it.” However, if you make demands you risk having the offer pulled.

2. Negotiating a compensation package should be an amicable discussion. Remember you’re going down the road with these people. In the future you will be working side by side toward a common goal. The last thing you want to do is to alienate your prospective employer. Again, that doesn’t mean just rolling over and accepting the initial offer. You should always express your enthusiasm for the position and then take some time to study the offer.

3. Get the offer in writing. It’s best to get the offer in writing, especially as they get more complicated with items like bonuses and equity stakes. For most companies, a written offer is standard operating procedure, however, there are companies that prefer to get some sort of verbal commitment before they memorialize the deal. In that case, it’s a good idea to jot down your own notes, ensuring nothing falls through the cracks.

4. Combination verbal and written negotiation. Whether you’re working from an offer memorandum or your own notes, it’s a great technique to develop your own written talking points, email them to the decision maker with whom you’re negotiating and then discuss your requests, either in person or on the phone. Having something in writing gives both parties a foundation from which to work, keeping the negotiation focused and professional.

5. One wish list. Your compensation is a total package. When analyzing the strengths of the offer you need to focus on all of the elements. Your response should be comprehensive, listing each of the items you’d like to improve. This gives the decision maker, who may have more flexibility in some areas than others, room to operate. For instance, if they can’t come up with a higher base, perhaps they can enhance the bonus or equity. Say you ask for and receive some concessions but neglected other items you’d like to improve, going back to the well multiple times could make it appear that you’re not that enthusiastic about the offer and potentially poison the budding relationship.

A successful negotiation can be incredibly enriching with rewards reflected not only in your compensation package but also in intangibles such as the earned esteem and respect of your future employers.

~Linda

 

 

 

Resumes the Way of the Dinosaur? Not in this Century!

DinosaurI recently read a blog post that suggested resumes may soon be a relic of the past. In the Forbes post, 2013: The Year of Social HR, the author points to trends indicating your Internet presence will be more important than your resume. The article states that “before you’re interviewed by a potential employer, expect the recruiting manager or hiring manager to check out one or more of the following sources about you: 1) the top ten searches on your name on either Google or Bing, 2) the number of Twitter followers you have and last time you tweeted, 3) the size and quality of your LinkedIn community, 4) the number and quality of recommendations you have on LinkedIn and 5) your Klout score.”

This begs the question of how you received the interest of the potential employer in the first place. Might it have been a resume? I certainly agree that a LinkedIn profile and online Web Portfolio can complement the traditional resume, but you’ll still need to tell a compelling story about your experience and expertise in the content of those online tools, especially at the executive and upper professional levels. How many executives are spending hours on social media, generating a following through entertaining tweets. And if they are, would your really want them running your operations?

I can see a strong social media presence being important for someone in marketing or advertising, but don’t you want your executives to be spending their time contributing to bottom line growth, running the company or their division? Even if you’re fresh out of college and just starting your career, do you really believe a 140 character tweet will get you in front of a hiring manager? And whether social media will completely replace traditional marketing as far as yielding ROI is not even up for debate at this point, it doesn’t and probably never will. Social media is just another arrow in the quiver of marketing managers.

Remember in the mid to late 90’s when there were dire predictions of Apple’s demise? The last time I checked, it remains an industry leading, technology powerhouse and has not gone the way of the dinosaurs. So too will resumes, in some form or another (LinkedIn, Web Portfolio’s, Online Resumes), always be with us. There’s no better way to share you skills and expertise.

~Linda