Internet based recruiting has made you easier to find, not easier to like…

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” wrote Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” It sounds more profound in French, but then a lot of things do. C’est La vie.

IT-jobs-in-michigan30 years ago, the internet didn’t exist: No domain names: no email, at least not for civilian consumption; no websites or aps; No social media; No job boards; Careerbuilder.com didn’t arrive until 1998. But fifteen years later, it’s hard to imagine life without any of them. Certainly if you’re a recruiter, a hiring manager or a person trying to find a job, the thought of not relying heavily on the internet is hard to imagine.

In 1990, you couldn’t go online and find a candidate; you couldn’t go to a company’s website and find their open IT jobs, and you couldn’t apply to a job in any way other than mailing a real piece of paper to someone’s name you found at a company and hope that they still worked there…. Linkedin wasn’t around to tell us the moment someone had a new job.

It’s a safe argument to make that the ways these things happen have complete changed- and yet, Jean-Baptiste, who was alive before electricity existed in people’s homes, realized that the internet would not change the fundamentals of hiring someone. (OK so maybe he didn’t actually go that far- but if Da Vinci gets credit for inventing the helicopter just for drawing something that looked like it and claiming it might work, then I think it’s only fair that Jean gets his props too.)

As IT recruiters, every day we talk to candidates on the phone, who we likely found on the internet in some form.

These are people who’s specific skills and personal interests we no longer need to remember. Everything is easily searchable and easily compartmentalized. We analyze these candidates using all sorts of data points, certifications, and information which we’ve never before had at our fingertips. We present them to clients, often through a system that has the sole purpose of keeping track of people.

As recruiters people are our job, and we work very hard to maintain personal contact and to keep the personal element of the process alive. Because what we know and what even French philosophers know, is that the central guiding factor in the search for work has not changed one iota since the days of oil lamps and letters of introduction.

In the end, they come in for an interview, are asked a number of questions about what they do and how they do it, and a person decides if they like the feel of things. They don’t run a statistical analysis based on 1,000 points of information and produce a statistical match.

It doesn’t seem to matter how much we automate, effiency-ize, or design far too intelligent evaluations- if we don’t get along really well, we’re not hiring you, recommending you or working for you.

So for the TL;DR crowd (Too long didn’t read)- Stop worrying about knowing every acronym and getting the extra .02 points on your GPA- Stop worrying about getting every word right in the objective on your resume – and start getting better at relating to people. If all of your focus is on the front end of the process, you will go to a lot of interviews for very little opportunity.

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Resumes, Interviews and New Jobs … OH MY!

Job Search PrepWhether you are new to the labor force, looking for a career move or out of work struggling to get hired, finding a job can be a bit overwhelming. Allow me to provide you a few quick tips to help in your quest to find a job.

Let’s start with your resume. I like to define a resume as being a document that outlines a clear and focused understanding of who you are as a professional. By doing this, begin by understanding your professional goals, aspirations and personal integrities. Finding a job is a 2 sided street, you must be just as happy with your decision as your future employer, therefore outlining your REAL objectives vs. spewing a canned paragraph is a must. Sure you will need to list your backgrounds and skill sets, but don’t let a long, tedious dissertation of your past put the reader to sleep.

Tailor your resume to fit the key items the company is looking for and prominently display them in the forefront of your resume. Don’t get carried away here and start fabricating the truth of your actual experiences. This will certainly come back to haunt you either on the interview or on the job if you were selected. Next, provide easy to read bullets that closely align your skills and experiences with the job at hand. Relevant keywords will not only allow you to stand out in the sourcing process, but your resume is now searchable when a position within your category is being sought after. Lastly, check your resume for errors. Don’t let a carelessness ruin your first impression.

Now that your self-discovery is complete and your resume is solid, you are ready for distribution. The positive of today’s job search capabilities is the extraordinary reach we are provided through social networking, job boards and online connections. The big negative is that job boards are making it too easy to apply for a job. You click, you submit and that’s it. Though they simplify the process for the job seeker, it makes it harder for the recruiter to filter the unqualified; therefore you must not forget the art of targeting your application to a desired job.

You know your hard work has finally paid off when you get that first request for an interview. Here’s my view on this both from my pre-staffing days and now reinforced in the staffing industry. 99% of the time, if a company wants to interview you, it’s because they think you would be a good fit for the job. This instinct is gained by the impression you made on your resume and your appeal on the phone screen. It’s one of the few situations in life where you almost always automatically start out in a positive light. In other words, if you are invited for an interview, that job offer is yours to either lose or decide you don’t want it.

The problem with interviews is that they are a double edged sword. You can’t walk in aggressively assuming the job is yours, yet you have to have enough self confidence to know you can do the job. Now, let’s take a look at how easy it is make a bad first impression from your interview.

1) You oversold yourself on paper: Turns out, you really don’t know what you need to know for the job. They thought you did based on your resume, but you don’t have the experience level they want.
2) You choked: Either you didn’t communicate your experience well or didn’t connect with the interviewer.
3) You were unprepared: If you show up late, looking like a slob or bringing your favorite childhood teddy bear, you are likely to not to get a call back.

One last piece of advice: come to an interview with an “Elevator Pitch” on yourself. Focus your self-pitch on “what is in it for the company” you are applying for. How can YOU help them solve their problems, what would YOU do to achieve their corporate goals and ultimately how can YOU allow them to make more money! In all reality, it doesn’t matter what experience, industry knowledge or certifications you have obtained … what matters is how your credentials will help your future employer become more profitable and assist in furthering their success. I have found this to be one of the most important things you need to know when preparing to enter the world of job searching.

Josh Kaplan blogs on a variety of subjects including IT Staffing and IT Healthcare Staffing.

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Face it, your friends and colleagues are more popular than you.

The statement is true, we are our worst critics. How many times have you found yourself frustrated at that person at your gym because they are in better shape than you, or at your neighbor because their house has more worth than yours, or how about your friend that is making more money and reaping more success than you? We could go on and on comparing our own traits, assets and abilities to others, but if you haven’t noticed already … it’s only leading us to trouble.

Friendship Paradox, Talascend IT Blog 4.25 It is hard to overcome these simple ideologies that we think define us, but the “friendship paradox” proves that this human annoyance is real and everyone struggles with it. The explanation is based on a numeric pattern that mathematically proves that we will never be as popular as our friends.

This paradox, first publicized in 1991, has recently been retested and applied to current social media situations where it still holds its truth. Not to make you feel even worse, but you have less Facebook friends than your friends do as well.

Certainly there are a few of those extraordinary outliers that have more twitter friends than there were students in your entire college or those who make Arnold Schwarzenegger’s physique look pudgy and there will always be those people whose ATM balance is higher than the amount of miles on your 10 year old car. These are all exceptions that skew the average, making us fall below the normal, further feeding our anxieties.

I’m not a big fan of clichés but think about this for a second. You know that saying “the grass is always greener on the other side”? Well it turns out … it really is greener over there. The problem is that we can’t ever get there! There is no way possible to catch up to those outlying exceptions whether it’s a Hollywood superstar, a talented athlete or simply the person next door. You likely can’t ever cross to the higher side of the average, so “keeping up with the Jones’” becomes merely an exercise in futility.

How often do we compare ourselves against the people less than our standard and step back to realize our achievements? Not enough. In most cases of self comparisons, we match ourselves up against the unachievable. This unrealistic match adds to our frustrations and brings our insecurities to the forefront. Let’s take the case of your gym friends, for example, that are in better shape than you. You are comparing yourself to a group of people that are consistently working at bettering their health and body image. What you are not taking into account are those people sitting at home eating pizza on their couch. The average comparisons are non-representative and will never align.

So what can you do?
Beat your own averages by allowing yourself to be your greatest competition. Imagine if your average work productivity was measured this week. Next week comes, you measured it again and your average is higher. That would be the definition of self improvement, no? Granted, there will always be someone in the office that measures 4X as productive as you due to whatever unique circumstances they have built up to or lucked into, but don’t let this influence you. You’re not trying to beat them; in fact you’re better off ignoring them and working your own average should be your sole focus.

Don’t get me wrong, emulating other’s actions is a great way of help influence your own success; ask any investor who mimicked Warren Buffet’s financial moves over the last 30 years, but Warren Buffet should not be your primary method to measure yourself up against. You will never compare exactly in your successes.

Utilize your past to make improvements on your future. If you go on an interview, be better than you were on your last 3 interviews. If you are holding a meeting, be more efficient and effective than you were during your last meeting. If you are dealing with a sensitive situation, learn from past scenarios and deal with it better.

Perhaps this all sounds a little basic, simple lessons we were taught in kindergarten to not worry about what other people are doing and to only worry about ourselves. The truth is, we as humans can’t help but wonder about other people and how they got where they are (be it good place or bad). Once we accept that the “greener side” can only exist by measuring ourselves against our own past, we can then begin to succeed in our future.

If we could apply this logic to the majority of professional situations, we’d certainly achieve far more.

Josh Kaplan blogs on a variety of subjects including IT Staffing and IT Healthcare Staffing.

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The era of spin is dead. Here are 5 things to do instead.

Talk to any marketing professional and they will tell you that the fundamental rules of marketing and PR have changed beyond recognition in recent years.

Hand Shake The advent of the internet didn’t have the immediate impact you might have expected it to. Sure things became more immediate but the format of advertising messages remained largely the same. What used to be a billboard became a banner; what used to be a printed article became an online article. It took a while for the whole culture of promotion to change. But that day arrived with the emergence of social media as a consumer force. It no longer matters how slick your advertising is; your target market isn’t impressed any more. They don’t want to hear what you think of yourself through a corporate spokesperson, they want to hear what your customers think of you directly from them. You’re not involved in polishing your message any more. You can’t spin anything. So what’s the answer? There’s no shortcut I’m afraid. You have to actually deliver and control your messaging by controlling your delivery.

Here are 5 tips for marketing your business in the new world order:

1. Don’t over sell. You believe in your brand and know it’s the best out there. Don’t keep telling people that, allow them believe it as well. If you present yourself other than who you are, people will realize it and begin to lose interest quickly. Your name will become known, but being fake is not the way you want to be remembered. Word of mouth is not achieved by overpromising and under delivering. In fact, this will only give you the reverse affect. Don’t cheat yourself by telling your customers you have the means of fulfilling a request that you don’t. Be realistic with the timing of your commitments and always follow through. It’s not about having the best corporate pitch, most expensive advertising campaign or a beautiful office … none of this matters if your customers do not believe in what you are selling them.

2. Be unique. Do something a little different that makes you stand out in the crowd among the rest. Allow people to remember you by making an impression. Just Salad is a NYC restaurant chain with a recent campaign that provides 100 customers the opportunity to be a VIP within their establishment. This status includes a “Pink Bowl”, no waiting in line and free salad toppings on your special day. Dave Kerpen, NY Times Best-Selling Author, who frequents the local chain, wrote about this in his recent blog. He uses his word of mouth to share a real-life story of how he felt when he was selected as 1 of the 100 VIPs to receive this perk. A simple, yet unique concept came alive by viral social media posts, personal blogs and evolving conversations.

3. Maintain integrity. Honesty is the driving force behind customers trusting in you and your brand. Integrity is earned by staying true to your word and belief in your brand will follow. The simple truth will gain you more respect and respect is what keeps your customers coming back. Do what you say you are going to do. Could be as simple as if you said you are going to pick up bagels for the next meeting … bring the bagels and add on the coffee. And if you can’t fulfill an expectation, pick up the phone and personally make the call. There is nothing worse than not being able to fulfill an expectation and sending an email or using social media to deliver the message. Own up to your actions.

4. Be prepared for the negatives. Let’s face it, our society thrives on negativity. In fact, we will tell 10 times more people about a negative customer service experience than a positive one. With this in mind, always be prepared for the uncontrollable word of mouth that may not always have a positive impact on your brand. Create a plan to attack the negativity by neutralizing the debate with content that is factual and relevant. This is challenging to stay on top of, but don’t let it get the best of you. State facts, share content and move on.

5. Don’t allow technology to get in the way. In the guise of being more communicative, technology is creating distance between us and our customers, our management teams and their staff and all together our personal networks. Employee gratitudes, promotions, disciplines and feedback are, more often than not, sent via email simply because it is easier. Social network is giving companies the idea that customers will remain theirs if they continuously post on their Facebook page. We need to stay engaged with the people that surround us. Don’t forget, “word of mouth” is still a physical trait and the elimination of face to face interactions and real relationships will only help us step further back from where we need to be.

Many companies are hiring entire teams to control the word on the street about their business given the many outlets we have to express our opinions. They’re hiring for nothing. You simply cannot control the perception of your service after the fact anymore. The solution? Stop trying to present a great service and actually give people a great service. They’ll promote you themselves and the impact of their message is ten times what you could accomplish in marketing spin.

Make people think. Make people laugh. Contribute something to their day to get them interested in your brand.

But when all is said and done, your next customer is coming along because of the service you gave to the last one. Treat everyone as if they were the only customer you ever had. The mass message will take care of itself.

Josh Kaplan blogs on a variety of subjects including IT Staffing and IT Healthcare Staffing.

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Somebody’s Watching You … The Loss of Privacy During the Digital Ages

Privacy Graphic for Talascend IT Blog I would consider myself to be somewhat of an IT junkie. Nonetheless, I still miss the good ole simple, non-techie days. Days when we reconnected with people by bumping into them at actual department stores or ran into them at Blockbuster while picking up a movie to rent on a Friday evening. Days when the library was our primary tool of research and a simple Dewey Decimal System’s 3×5 cards allowed us to find our favorite book. Heck, I even miss the days when listening to my favorite music on a turntable was an explicit hobby and being able to record my favorite song by pressing the “record” button on my cassette player was completely revolutionary.

Oh, those were the days of pre-internet and instantaneous access to communication and the world at large. Unfortunately, our kids will never know what it’s like to pass an actual note (on paper) to a friend in class and unless you dropped your awesome paper pass on the floor where another kid could grab it, it was truly considered a “private” conversation.

Then came the mid-90s. A decade in which the internet was made public and our private lives as we knew it (or didn’t) was about to change. Change seems to be such an understatement. I still find myself amazed that in 18 years, technology as we know it has revolutionized the entire depth of our society. I think this is what makes me so intrigued about technology. We are now officially in an age where employers ask candidates for usernames and passwords to their social media accounts, parents put GPS tracking devices in their children’s backpacks and spouses put key logging devices on computers. In 18 short years, it would seem that the premise of privacy has been completely washed away in a tidal wave of technology.

That simple note once passed during class asking if you wanted to meet at the swings after school has now turned into a text, an e-mail, a tweet or maybe even a status update on Facebook or a snapchat.  The problem is … and most people don’t realize including our children … this new note is NOT private.  If something happens, it’s all retrievable by either a snooping parent, a friend or in the case of a legal situation, the police.  That note that you used to be able to shred, flush or burn is now a traceable piece of a history that will be a picture of your entire life from the time of your first text to the time of your last.

Some believe the nature of the internet is to provide us the ability to have 2 lives. We can now live vicariously through our virtual selves online, as well as having a flesh and blood life in which we exist in.  People rightly or wrongly embrace their digital presence and put themselves out for the world to see (or maybe for the interested people to see even deeper with a little digging). 

Society is slowly realizing the privatization of oneself is gone due to the digital days in which we live and they are trying to do something about it. Do you know what holiday is celebrated on January 28th? An international holiday called, Data Privacy Day. This newly recognized holiday was passed by the Senate and House of Representatives in 2009 and is now celebrated annually to raise awareness to children, teens, adults and companies alike on the vulnerability of personal data and the risks one takes by sharing their personal information publically. Who would have thought after 18 years, we now have a holiday dedicated to technology safety and privacy. Spearheading this initiative is a non-profit organization by the name of National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), who works with government agencies, as well as all the major technology companies to pass along the message of personal data safeguards and online privacy safety.

What I find simply amusing now is that Apple, who recently claims the title of being the Most Valuable Company in History, still cannot prevent that jealous partner from snooping on their devices.  Apple, who handles over 2 BILLION texts a day, still cannot prevent hackers or even the regular “joes” from unlocking their iPhone and putting on all sorts of unapproved software.  Interestingly enough, what Apple has done is stopped the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), police force and all government agencies from being able to see our iMessages. The encryption and technology used within this platform subverts all of the privacy act laws and technology we don’t even know about.  That iPhone you have in your hand right now is a better messaging device to send uninterceptable, untraceable messages than any military device in history.

Or maybe they just want us to think that? What are your thoughts?

Josh Kaplan writes on a variety of subjects including IT Staffing and IT Healthcare Staffing.

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