A Job Seeker Confession: Your Posting STINKS!

30 04 2013

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Job descriptions SUCK.  Okay, maybe that statement was a bit harsh.  Not all job descriptions suck…just most of them.  I’ve seen a lot of them in my life and there seems to be a common theme.  Want to guess what it is?  Most are so broad that you’re still trying to figure out what exactly the job is by the time you’re done reading it.  We’ve all seen the bad ones.  You know, the ones that have the giant block of text about their company, a kitchen-sink list of responsibilities and day to day job duties, and qualifications needed.

What?  You may be thinking, “I thought those were the good ones.”  I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from people and thought I’d share their insight.

I’m writing on behalf of the reader (the job seeker, not the writer of the job description) and say that we’re frustrated.  Have you ever tried to assemble a piece of furniture or new bicycle and find that the instructions are so complex that they might as well be in another language?  The reason for this is that most of the directions and user manuals are written by the people (engineers, etc.) that understand the inner-workings of the product.  The issue is that they’re caught in the weeds (details) and don’t see the big picture.  We need to see the big picture.  In fact, pictures work REALLY well with assembly instructions.  Most times, I just go from the pictures rather than reading the directions.  If there’s a video on YouTube, even better!  I may or may not have had some extra bolts and screws leftover from my last assembly job…

Why do pictures work?  We know where we’re going and what the end product will be.  As it relates to job descriptions, job seekers want to know where they’re going.  What impact will they have on the business?  Will they have support from a team or manager?  Will they be trained or will they need to possess certain core competencies before starting the job?  What is the company’s culture like?  Will there be opportunity for advancement or additional responsibilities?

In my opinion, HR needs to get this right.  If you can spell it out in the job description and people actually understand the opportunity, impact and that they’re a match for the job, then you’re more likely to hire the RIGHT person for the job.  When I say “right,” I mean that they’re a fit for the position, possess the qualifications, are a culture fit for the company, etc.

What makes a GOOD job description?  Good job descriptions outline a day in the life of an employee in that position.  They also include information about the company’s corporate culture (be careful here – don’t just regurgitate what’s on your website.)  Some of the best job descriptions I’ve seen recently have even included embedded videos (<2min) that provide a fun snapshot into the company and social feeds with recruiters answering job seeker questions in real-time.  As a job seeker, we want to know what you’re looking for (if you don’t know, ask the hiring manager) and if we’re a match or not.  We’re job seekers, not mind readers, so please help us help you!

Also, we’d like to know what kind of timeline we’re looking at regarding the position: A month? 6 months?  I realize that question is harder to answer because it relies heavily upon the quality of candidates, but it’s still a “nice to know.”  Check out Jim Stroud’s post on how to make your job descriptions better.  He’s a smart guy and I know you’ll learn something. 🙂

So, in closing, there’s the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to job descriptions.  Guess which ones get more quality applications and result in the right hireHere’s a brush.  Paint the right picture.

What are some examples of good or bad job descriptions that have stood out to you recently?  I’d love to hear from you!  Please leave a comment below.  As always, thanks for reading!

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Working from Home: Proximity ≠ Productivity

23 04 2013

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Photo credit: Go with the flow (Flickr)

Guest post by Kelly Wortham

With the studies that continue to show that working from home (WFH) leads to greater productivity and employee satisfaction, I find it very difficult to understand decisions like those made recently by Yahoo and Best Buy. Stanford’s study showed WFH led to a 13% increase in productivity – only 9% of which could be explained by a reduction of commute time and sick leave necessity. So why doesn’t WFH work as well for some?

4 things companies can do (and candidates should look for) to ensure a successful WFH culture:

Address the slackers

Organizations must identify the “slackers” and address that issue for the issue it is (at the employee level – not the company level). It might be highlighted and worsened in the WFH atmosphere, but those individuals who slack when WFH may do the same in the office, but with a broader negative impact to productivity. I know we have all experienced the office slacker that is always dragging others into conversations about the game, office politics, lunch plans… rarely getting anything done and reducing productivity for everyone.

Trust your people

Second, you must have a level of trust for your remote workers. If they are delivering their goals, are available and responsive – you must trust that they are working just as hard as the folks in the office you see pecking away on their keyboards (remember: proximity ≠ productivity).

Technology and culture

Third, you have to have a culture in the office that supports WFH. That means helping them to set up an effective home office and not conference meetings where 1 or 2 people are on the phone and cannot follow along because the Power Point deck is not being shared virtually and people are talking over each other. That means pausing when asking the room if anyone has any questions to give the remote folks a chance to ask their questions (or provide their answers), too.

Appreciation and recognition

And finally, it means recognizing that those who work remote often work more hours and have worse work/life balance than those who do not. It is important that this extra work is recognized, appreciated and communicated to the entire organization. This reduces that completely inaccurate assumption that the WFH staff is likely doing laundry and watching the game while everyone else is working.

Are there companies who manage to make a company culture so strong that allowing WFH could take away from that? Of course! Just look at Google and Zappos. Both have created atmospheres so perfectly suited to any and all working styles and personalities that no one who works there would likely ever request to WFH. But…(you knew it was coming, didn’t you?) what about the talent great companies are missing out on because some of us cannot or will not relocate to California or Las Vegas? Truly, companies such as Google and Zappos can probably survive without the WFH talent (no matter how awesome we are. 🙂 ) But what about the Yahoos and Best Buys of the world? Can they really afford to not even consider extremely motivated and highly-productive talent that may require the ability to WFH? Companies willing to broaden their nets to include a greater diversity of work styles are going to get some really talented fish! And frankly, even for the school of fish graduating soon who have been immersed in technology that makes physical proximity nearly completely unnecessary, if there are companies allowing them to work from wherever they can dream of… well, I’d think companies like Yahoo and Best Buy could be left with empty nets.

About the author:

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Kelly Wortham, Senior Manager, Global Site Optimization, Dell – Kelly has been working in digital analytics for the past 11 years with nearly 5 of those from home. She joined Dell in 2010 and currently remotely manages an international team of testing managers while coordinating between cross-functional teams that work together to plan, develop and prioritize Dell’s website testing roadmap. You can connect with Kelly through email, Twitter and LinkedIn.





Succeeding in the Job Search Today [INFOGRAPHIC]

16 04 2013

At some point or another, most of us will go through the long-winded process that is the job search. It’s a tough business to be in, especially if you’re not getting the results you want. However, when you’ve done your research and have the proper information on your side, the outcome of your job search will likely come out in your favor.

This infographic, compiled by Interview Success Formula, a program that helps job seekers to deliver powerful interview answers, illustrates how job seekers can navigate through the job search today and how to do well in the process. Some takeaways to note include:

  • 80 percent of available jobs are never advertised (here are some networking tips)
  • 20 percent of job applicants get interviews (here are some interview tips)
  • The average length of an interview is approximately 40 minutes
  • The most important characteristics in a job applicant are multitasking, initiative, and creative thinking

Check out the full infographic below and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

What do you think? What are some other ways to succeed in the job search?

Please note: The publishing of this infographic is not an endorsement. It’s simply a way to pay it forward, sharing relevant job search information across the world in an effort to help people like you succeed in your endeavors.  By the way, if you’re an Enactus USA (formerly SIFE) student or alumni, check out the Enactus USA Career Marketplace here.  Over 450 jobs with 72 companies now posted! 

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How to Ask for a Raise

9 04 2013

negotiationGuest post by Carol Sand

If you work hard at your job, get complimented on your work, are rarely late or absent and have quality experience, chances are you deserve a raise. Some companies are happy to give out raises to their best workers because it is the right thing to do, but others won’t budge unless they are pushed. Asking for a raise can be a nerve wracking experience. You may feel presumptuous or arrogant asking for more money, but the truth is that you are probably worth much more than your currently salary. Good employees are hard to find, and any company worth working for will recognize this and pay accordingly; however, a raise is unlikely to fall into your lap. You need to be proactive and prepared.

Compare Salaries

The first step to take during this process is to find out what you’re worth in the job market. There are online services that can help you discover competitive salaries for a wide variety of positions in different parts of the country. If average pay for your position is higher than what you are currently earning, you have solid ammunition in support of your raise. If you’re earning the average in your field, you will need to present your boss with reasons why you are worth more than the average worker who has your position.

Prepare Your Case

Computers make it easy to document success at your job. Make sure to keep track of all your accomplishments and efforts to help the company by saving emails, reports and any evidence of an increase in work load. The more solid information you have of your excellence the less power management will have to deny your request for a raise. You can deliver this information vocally during the meeting for your raise request, but providing physical copies can enhance your argument.

Time Your Request

Figuring out when to ask for a raise involves a lot of different factors in the business. Just because you deserve a raise doesn’t always mean management will be willing to give you one at any particular moment. The best times to ask are during your personal milestones with the company: anniversaries, progress reports and annual reviews. A good report from management gives you solid evidence to present when you’re questioned about why you deserve a pay bump. You can also ask for a raise when the company announces plans for expansion or growth. This gives you a valuable opportunity to show how you’ll be an integral part to future business success. If your company just went through a series of layoffs or massive cut backs, you should allow for a cool off period before submitting a request.

How to Respond to a Rejection

Even the best employees have a chance of having their pay raise request rejected. It’s important to have a strategic response to a complete rejection or being given a much smaller raise than requested. Unless you have an incompetent boss, you will be provided with a reason why your request couldn’t be granted. A common answer is that there is not enough money in the budget, but this can be a sign that management is open for negotiation. Try to get job offers from companies in the area to show that you are worth more in the marketplace than what you’re getting paid. Do not threaten to quit unless you can actually afford to do so. If your boss has honest criticisms about your performance, take those critiques to heart and work hard on improving. It will look good when you resubmit your request at a later date.

Carol SandAbout the author: Carol Sand MAP Houston is a career counselor in Houston, TX offering skills assessments, resume and cover letter writing tips, and networking advice for job seekers and career changers.





Winning (and Losing) in Your Career

2 04 2013

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Competition is all around us.

Everywhere we look, someone or something is competing to be the best. Whether it’s Darwin’s survival of the fittest in nature or an athletic sport, competition is a way of life. We all compete. It’s up to us to determine whether or not we win…sometimes. We all get a bad break here and there, but it’s what we do with that luck event that can really turn things around.

I’ve been attending a series of inspiring Enactus competitions this Spring (disclaimer: I work for Enactus) and have discovered that everything seems to fall into categories. As a job seeker or lifelong student, check out these three nuggets gleaned from competition:

Compete against others. This is the easy one. We see competition as a way to best others in a particular area like sports. It doesn’t stop there, though. Competition fosters innovation. Don’t believe me? Check out this article on pro snowboarder Shaun White. A little healthy competition is good for us. I think that ideas and innovation would grow stagnant and eventually cease to exist if there wasn’t someone or something urging us to take it one step further.

Compete against yourself. You’re your own worst critic. Use that to your advantage. Keep pushing yourself to do a little better. Try new things. Approach challenges with different solutions and from different perspectives.

Compete to win the war, even if you lose the battle. We don’t always win, or do we? I think that if a person learns something through defeat and failure, they’re more likely to come out of the battle stronger. Think big picture. When Thomas Edison was asked about the light bulb, he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Be enthusiastic about your successes, but learn from your failures.

What have you learned about competition? Please share by leaving a comment!