3 hot tips on how not to annoy a recruiter….

I’m recruiting for 2 of my clients right now.  Recruiting isn’t something that I do very often; as a rule I’ll help with a strategic or difficult to fill role if I’m doing other work for a client and they’ve had challenges in the past.  Often this will go hand in hand with my teaching interview skills training and becoming, generally, the bouncer at the door that insures (or tries to) an issue-free pipeline.

Right now, I find myself talking to candidates every day.  Sometimes I virtually fall in love in the course of the conversation.  I became so invested in a candidate I placed a couple of weeks ago that I felt sure I would be more disappointed than she if my client selected someone else.  Someone I spoke to this week was so personable, so charming, that I welled up when I sent him a (personalized) “no fit” email.

While those magical, sparkly, matchmaking conversations are why I do this work on occasion, they are not the norm.  And so for your benefit, job seekers of America, I present three foibles from this week.  And, my suggestions for not irritating a hiring manager or headhunter and, hopefully, landing a sweet gig.

1.  The Salary Range.

Many pros will disagree with me, but really.  Would you walk into the Whole Foods and say,”I’d like to pay somewhere between $1-$3 for this apple”? No you would not.

If you want $80,000 a year, don’t say $70,000 – $90,000.  I’m not going to offer you $90 when you’ve told me you’ll take $70.  Just say “I am looking for a minimum base salary of $80,ooo” and then stop speaking.  Trust me, if I want you and my client can afford you, you’re getting $80,000.  If I want you and can’t afford you, I’ll lowball you.  Don’t tell me what your lowball number unless that’s the offer you want.

2. Premature eThankyouation.

There is something that feels disingenuous about receiving a thank you email twenty minutes after the interview has concluded.  In my 20s, after a date in NYC, it was sweet to have a text pop up when I emerged from the subway.  Its less endearing to get an email sent from the elevator as a candidate leaves the building.

Speedy thank you’s often don’t contain commentary specific to the conversation we have just had and feel, instead, like formulaic politeness (do you keep a draft saved?).  If you’re going to write the thank you email, best to wait until the end of the business day and write something that demonstrates insight and reflection.

3.  Answer the question.  And by “the,” I mean “my.”

Interviewees often have stock answers, anecdotes and examples that they want me to hear. Practiced responses are acceptable if they answer the question posed, but they rarely do. When I ask someone to tell me about a time they have had a difficult team member and how they dealt with it and they respond with a story about the biggest deal they have closed, I begin writing a grocery list in my head.  It has fixed priced apples on it.

Go forth, don’t be annoying, get hired.

3 hot tips on how not to annoy a recruiter….

Please don’t rear-end me.

We’re seven weeks into our new lives in Durham, North Cackalacky.  Quick review: amazingly nice people, awesome food and beverage situation, great bands that play before my bedtime, reasonable housing prices, worst drivers I’ve ever encountered.

Its not that they lack skill, its that the roads are wide open and flat and not very attention grabbing.  The net result is next level multitasking.  Drinking coffee while applying mascara while texting? No problemo!  I saw a middle aged guy driving a Porsche down the I-40 with a novel propped on the steering wheel.  A NOVEL.  Which he was READING.  In the PASSING LANE.

A lot has been written in the businesphere about the perils of multitasking and why we might become more productive humans if we re-learned to devote our full attention to one thing at a time.

According to this article, “it takes… an average of 15 minutes to re-orient to a primary task after a distraction such as an email. Efficiency can drop by as much as 40%.”  Peter Bregman, an expert on performance and productivity, quotes a study in this article that shows “people distracted by incoming email and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQs.”

Its hard to block out the noise made by your iPhone, your laptop, or even a chatty co-worker.  But if we are honest about how many emails we skim and ignore, calls we screen and don’t return, and commitments we make and promptly forget, there is an consequence of multitasking worse than lowered productivity and IQ.  We’re addicted to distraction itself more than to what distracts us.  And that, good people, is what’s scary.

We interrupt ourselves to address stimuli that we are just as likely to half-ass.  Being distracted from writing a report to look at Facebook? That makes sense – one takes thought and concentration and the other is diversion.  But being distracted from a conversation to check email that we will likely lose track of? That’s not logical!  That’s distraction from one potentially interesting thing to a thing that’s a known bore.

There are lots of ways to combat this, and productivity experts with far more expertise that I have weighed in.  So I’ll just talk about what works for me.

1.  I turn off my phone in meetings.  I’m not an ER doctor, I’m an HR consultant.  No one will die because I don’t return a text for 25 minutes.

2.  I track my time in excel.  I have to track billable time anyway, so this comes naturally.  The result is that I see if a block of time is unaccounted for and can ponder what I might have done with it.  Or, more positively, at the end of a week I have data to determine whether I spent my time in the right places.

3.  This goes along with number 2 – determine how much of your time you want to spend on certain activities.  If you’re tracking your time (your calendar works for this too, btw) add up the hours at the end of the week and see if you met your goals.  For me, that’s three hours of writing, four business development meetings, etc.

4.  Don’t expect to stop multitasking and become a highly functioning individual in a week.  Its a muscle that takes strengthening like any other.

I have a lot more thoughts on this topic, and will likely come back to it.  But now I’m thirteen minutes into the hour I’ve reserved for client work, so I will turn my email and phone back on, and start replying to messages.

Please don’t rear-end me.

How to sell yourself.

If someone knows, by all means give me a ring.

Since starting my own business, I’ve solicited a lot of advice from people who know more about doing this than I do.  Smart people have told me to network, network, network.  Write, write, write.  Speak, speak, speak.

But what no one told me is how much harder it is to get the work than to do the work.  I’ve worked for two organizations since graduation and was at each for more than five years.  I made a faster-than-usual climb up ladder and received a lot of head patting and back slapping along the way.  I had gold stars on my forehead, the right cards in my wallet, and a mind half stress, half swagger.  Now, I’m writing to people I’ve not met, attending networking events, talking about myself and asking for things.

I don’t like asking for things.  I like being asked for things.  But here I am.  Those who know me professionally reaffirm that I’m special, that I’ll make a go of this, that it just takes time.  But what it also takes is an appetite for rejection.  For being ignored.  For allowing that it doesn’t matter how capable I am if I only have two clients.

I will continue down this path and push until I succeed.  But for those at the head of the path, be warned: it seems so easy with the first clients.  Work life is better in every way than when you were at a big company.  But the path isn’t lined with flowers.  For every pointless meeting you had at your corporate job, now you will attend a useless webinar about branding and social media.  For every client call you didn’t want to answer, now you will hope that the potential client is the one answering the phone.

The work is all its cracked up to be.  Unfortunately, this business is about more than doing the work.


How to sell yourself.

Hey y’all

And. I’m. Back.

To blogging, that is.  A year and a half ago, I started my first blog to document a trip around the world.  At the time, I thought of it as a way to keep friends and family updated on our whereabouts and to describe some of our hijinks.  I thought it would cut down on coming up with cocktail party traveldotes and, frankly, justify to the haters (and to ourselves) why we’d quit our jobs to go on this nutty adventure to begin with.

We came back in June of 2011, after 364 days on the road (and air, and sea).  And although some of my most dedicated readers were unexpected – the mom of my husband’s high school friend, a former client, a 94-year-old widow in Wisconsin – the purpose of that blog has changed in the seven months I’ve been back.  I wrote it to stay connected with people I was away from; now I read it to stay connected to that time in my own life.

Since I came home and started consulting, several wizened advisors have told me to start another blog – that it’s a networking tool, a repository for the research I do, an outlet to discuss the work I’m engaged in.  I knew they were right but as it turns out I just needed the chaos of another major life change to kick it into gear.

This week, my husband and I leave on a 10 day trip to Colombia then spend our last weekend in NYC.  We return to our home of the last seven months in the Berkshires for two days then move permanently (?) to Durham, NC.

So, here we go, then.

Hey y’all