So you just landed the perfect new job, have given your two-week notice, turned down their counteroffer and need to figure out what to do with yourself at work as you wind down. First of all, it’s very important that you do give proper notice. Professional courtesy requires two weeks, but depending on the project you are working on your employer may need you to give a three-week notice or, if it’s a slower time, sometimes they will only require one.
This is not the time to slack off, come in late, or leave early. These final two weeks will leave a lasting impression with your manager as well as your coworkers. Be sure that you leave your team in a good position, meaning your work is complete, organized and well documented. You don’t want to be “that guy” that they will be talking about who left his fellow employees in the lurch or with sloppy work.
If you are leaving the company because you are unhappy with your manager or other negative reasons, it’s better to keep those things to yourself. You want to remain upbeat and positive during this time.
This is also a great time to get your references in order for the future. At some point you will be looking again so will need references. Be sure to get their personal phone numbers and email addresses, not just their work addresses.
You may have a going away party or lunch so you still want to maintain your professionalism during this occasion. Again you don’t want to be “that guy” who got out of control at his going away party.
The bottom line is these last two weeks are as important as all the other weeks you have worked for this company and you want to be remembered for all the great work you did. As I wrote in a previous blog, “It’s a Small World”, there is a good chance you will cross paths with many of these people again.
- Jennifer Carlson, Senior Account Manager at Technical Connections
Back in June when I was laid off, I was advised to reach out to recruiters for help with my job search. Although I spent a frustrating six months working with a few recruiting agencies trying to find my next position, it ended up being a blessing in disguise. Little did I know that I would end up on the other side of the desk as a recruiter myself.
While the agencies did find me jobs, the salaries were too low or didn’t fit my personality, and therefore didn’t last long. I felt like the recruiters were going through the motions without taking the time to get to know me and what I was really looking for. Without knowing it, these agencies were providing me with a good education on what NOT TO DO as a recruiter in my new career.
When I was first asked if I was interested in becoming a recruiter, I immediately thought about the agencies and people I had been dealing with during my job hunt. It didn’t seem very appealing at first, since I didn’t like these people very much, but once I had the opportunity to meet the group of people I’d be working with, I knew right away that our company was different. I figured I could do things differently; I would actually care about my candidates and take the time to get to know them to help them find their perfect job. I realized that I had joined a team of individuals who shared the same ideals. While we have to ask basic questions like, “Why are you on the market?” and “What are your skills?” the more important questions are personalized: “What do YOU want in a position?” “What motivates YOU?” People put their livelihoods, families and overall quality of life in our hands and we know that should not be taken lightly.
Before I came to Technical Connections, I was unsure of what I wanted to do with my life. The only thing I did know was that I wanted to do something that was more fulfilling. Who knew being a recruiter could be just that? Although I haven’t done this for very long, I am content knowing that my colleagues and I are helping people find their ideal jobs, as I have found mine.
When searching for a new job these days, you will undoubtedly be asked what you are currently making and even what you were making in past positions. Occasionally when I ask this question I run into folks who try to take the high (and mighty) road and say that the position shouldn’t be based on past salary, but rather on the market rate for the given skills. Okay, nice sentiment, but your past salaries actually directly correlate to your skill level – and you know it. What this really says to a future employer is that you don’t trust them with this info, and that is never a good way to start a relationship.
So let’s say that you understand that salary history is part of the employment equation; but do you even know what you are / were making?
At this point, you are asking yourself, “How can someone not know what he/she makes? I just check my pay stub and it lays it all out for me.”
That simple stub can have benefits, bonus, and an assortment of other variables integrated into it. HR doesn’t want to know that you made a total of 100K last year when asking for your salary.
They are specifically asking about your BASE SALARY.
If you have a salary of $85K + 10% bonus + awesome benefits, your salary is still $85K. Of course, you can tell companies all this other information, but DO NOT LUMP IT ALL TOGETHER when asked about salary and say it is $100K. This makes you look bad on a number of levels. This could mean that you don’t understand the basic question, which means you’re not very sharp. Or, even worse, it could mean that you are not being 100% honest. This could cost you the job right there and, trust me, companies are conducting extensive salary and past-employment background checks as a part of the hiring process.
Now that you have figured out your base salary, it’s also important to understand your benefits. Figure out your annual benefits cost. If you have a family, you may be very aware of what you pay in healthcare insurance, for example, but some people assume, incorrectly, that every company charges the same for dependent coverage. And though the standard number of weeks of vacation is still two to start, this also varies by company from no firm vacation policy to 4 weeks to start. Benefits often constitute a difference of thousands of dollars so know your own and know those of your potential employer!
Finally: Bonus. It’s important to relay exactly how your bonus was paid out in the past. Was this a guaranteed 10% of salary, was it based on personal goals or was it company-performance based? Have you consistently gotten the entire bonus? Did it change while you were with a company?
All this boils down to honesty, attention to detail, and simple brain power – virtues every employer is looking for in a future hire.
I have always had a problem with caring “too much.” I cared too much about my clothes and being cool, I cared too much about not hurting anyone’s feelings, and I still care too much about my parents’ opinions and the opinions of the people I respect. And now, I also care too much about the happiness of my candidates and their future. But caring too much is not necessarily a bad thing.
Since I came into the recruiting business, I have been exposed to many different styles, techniques, and opinions on what may be the “best” or the “most effective” way of speaking with people in order to gain their trust. However, I have found it difficult to be anything other than what I am – a deeply caring individual – even when candidates don’t quite get me or have a cynical view of recruiters.
That being said, I want to assure candidates that not all recruiters are in it just for the compensation. Some of us thrive on long-term relationships and the warm feeling of changing someone’s life by starting them in a new job and often a new lifestyle. Some of us want to be more than “just a recruiter.” We want to be a counselor, a guider, a mentor. We find joy in learning about you as a person, who you want to become, and what job is needed to get you there. Honestly, some recruiters are people lovers and crave connections. It reminds me of that line from the movie Into the Wild: “Happiness is only real when shared.” Moreover, we feel great happiness in our hearts when we can successfully land you a position that makes you happy and gives you great satisfaction.
It is difficult sometimes to see the good in people. Unfortunately, many of us have had really bad experiences with recruiters and so we put up walls. This can deter us from believing that someone actually may want to help. The fact is that there ARE people who want to help you, and there ARE recruiting firms out there that simply want to call you to get to know you. I encourage you to let them in. Take those walls down. Trust the good in them because, just like you, we are people with hearts and feelings that are trying to use our innate ability to connect with people and make a living as well.
I am relatively new to this industry, but the one thing that I have learned is that the most important factor is trust. Mutual trust between a recruiter and a candidate needs to be planted and nurtured in order for both sides to accomplish their goals. The recruiter must trust their “gut feeling” as to whether the candidate would really be happy in the position and at the company that they are representing, and then follow it. Likewise, the candidate must trust that the recruiter is looking out for their best interest. With mutual trust comes honesty, with honesty comes success and happiness, and that’s when BOTH parties win.
A resume is not just about jobs that you have held in the past or currently hold but rather it’s a document that represents who you are and your accomplishments throughout your career.
So what makes a resume stick out? There can be several factors such as companies you have worked for, titles you may have held, job stability, etc. But what will really make your resume shine are your accomplishments in these positions. Employers for the most part can tell what you do from your title, but they don’t know how good you might be at your job. I’m not saying don’t list your responsibilities, but talk about some of the accomplishments in short bullet points. Get the employers excited when they see your resume. How are you going to catch their attention if you bore the reader with a generic job description and possibly list some of your accomplishments at the bottom of Page 3? Most prospective employers don’t even get to or read the end of your resume!
So, do you have a special skillset or “in-demand” technologies that you have worked with? Great! Talk about them, don’t just make a list. Employers want to know what you have done with those technologies. Again, in short bullet points, discuss projects that you have worked on and how those certain technologies were utilized. It’s easy to list a bunch of skills on your resume but it doesn’t really mean anything if you haven’t worked with them since college or have only had limited exposure.
Be careful of objectives. You don’t want to limit yourself by posting a very specific objective unless you are absolutely sure that’s what you want. You can either write a general objective or simply take it off your resume. It will give employers and recruiters more of a reason to call you and find out about your background and goals. You don’t want to miss out on an excellent opportunity because you only wanted to target a specific title and/or industry.
Finally, keep it simple. It’s ok if your resume goes over one page and even two but please don’t make it into a biography of your life. Employers and recruiters don’t have the time to go through every single detail. They are not going to care about what you did 15 or 20 years ago or if you are CPR certified or how fast you can type if it’s not relevant. So keep it simple and specific to the types of positions you are targeting.
Now, go write a terrific resume. And best of luck with your job search.
Ankit Dogra – Recruiter
People say that there are no stupid questions. Wrong… at least, when you are interviewing for a new job. I have been counseling people on how to interview, then celebrating job offers and commiserating over turn-downs, for the past 5 years. Over the course of time, I have learned a few lessons.
First of all, most great candidates are not experts at interviewing. As a matter of fact, most great candidates are terrible at interviewing because they rarely have to do it. However, being a great interviewer is how most people get job offers these days. As with anything in life, the best way to succeed is Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. Below are my lessons learned – and please feel free to share these with anyone who may benefit.
1. It is crucial to understand the company’s business and/or products before your interview. The best way to find company info (besides their website) is often Wikipedia. This site tends to be more upfront and clear than the company’s own website, which either assumes that you already know about the company or is trying to sell you something.
2. Know your interviewer. It’s normally pretty easy to find out your interviewer’s full name prior to your interview. If you are working with a good agency, they will provide that information. If you are searching on your own, you can always call the HR department from the company and ask for the name of the person conducting your interview. Once you have the name, do your research. Look them up on LinkedIn (LI’s advanced search allows you to search by first name and company – so it’s possible to find people without having a last name). Take note of how long they have been with the current company, their title, their career path, their degree – anything that can help you determine the parts of your background to stress and questions to ask.
3. Know yourself. A few days before the interview, review your own resume. Take some time to regress in time and re-live the first few jobs that are listed on your resume. You will never know what may jump out to an interviewer – if it is listed on your resume, it is fair game.
4. Flatter the company. Find some good press on the company/industry where you are interviewing. The most obvious spot to start is the press release section of their website. A better place to look is Google News and an even better place is archives of industry specific journals/news sites. You will score extra points if you can slyly mention an accolade that the company received that was not listed on their website.
5. Don’t ask stupid questions. There is a point in almost all interviews where you will have a chance to ask questions. The goal of this section of the interview, contrary to popular belief, is to make the interviewer feel good about him/herself and the company where they work. Why? Because the more people talk about themselves, the more they will like you (this has been scientifically proven). Too many candidates want to picture themselves in the job and start asking logistical questions like: how often are expenses reimbursed, can I come in at 7:30 instead of 8, or is there free coffee. These questions waste valuable time and, honestly, are slightly presumptive.
So, what are some good questions to ask? Anything that gets the interviewer talking about things they enjoy about their job. Examples: What do you like most about working here? Why did you decide to join this company? What is the culture like here? What are some traits of the most successful members of your team? What is your management style like? What are some examples of key projects that your team has worked on?
The key to successful interviewing is to “sell first, buy later”. You should think of every single interaction with a potential employer as an opportunity to sell yourself. Trust me, you will have plenty of time to ask logistical/buying questions once the company has decided to extend an offer. And, if you wait until that point in the process, you just may like their answers a little bit better.
Good luck out there!
Michele Wilson – Career Counselor, Technical Connections
One of the biggest life lessons I am attempting to teach my young daughter is that “It’s a Small World”. It seems like a cliché statement, but it’s so true. I recently became friends with someone and over the course of two years we have had a lot of crazy small world connections, ranging from business, to school, to neighbors. I bring this up because of how it translates into our professional life.
As a job applicant you will make a lot of connections that may not matter today, but will in the future. The way you handle yourself can make a great or not so great lasting impression that may carry you through your career. For example, if you are scheduled to attend an interview and decide not to go on the interview, i.e. no-show or are rude to the interviewers, there is a good chance that your paths may cross again. The people you were going to interview with or you met may move to another company and when you are looking for a job in a couple years there is a chance that your resume may cross the desks of one of those people. I can almost guarantee if you were unprofessional, that will be where your resume will end up, on their desk. Another example would be once you accept a position, if you back out afterwards; you will have interviewed with a lot of people and will tarnish your reputation for the future. Like I said, “It’s a Small World.”
You never want to talk poorly about an employer or company as you never know who you are talking to. Recently I was at a non-work party. Several hours later that night I found out that one of the people I was talking to was a Software Engineer who happened to work at one of my clients-he had even interviewed one of my candidates. Fortunately, the discussion was positive.
The key is to treat everyone you come in contact with respectfully; treat them the way you would want to be treated. Do what you say you are going to do, don’t burn bridges. Be kind to everyone from the checker at the market, to your recruiter, your neighbor, the receptionist, your colleagues and manager – you never know where you will end up and how these people will impact your future. After all, “It’s a Small World”.
- Jennifer Carlson – Senior Account Manager @ TCI