Do’s and Don’ts

I have four kids and have spent many hours reading books at night to my kids. One of the book, handed down by my parents, that has lasted throughout (the kids) is “Do’s and Don’ts” by Todd Parr.

The directions and advice offered from a children’s book offers parallels and advice that may be applied in various circumstances of day-to-day adulthood.

Amazon writes Do’s and Don’ts could be called an etiquette primer–sort of. “Do change your socks every day,” he tells us. “Don’t make anyone smell them,” he adds. “Do have lunch with a monkey,” but “don’t eat his bananas.” “Do brush your teeth after every meal,” but “don’t brush with peanut butter.” You get the idea.

 

 

 

 

I thought it would be appropriate to give you the “Do’s and Dont’s of Interviewing

Do arrive on-time to all interviews – including phone.

You want your first impression to be a great one! Tardiness may reflect upon you adversely.

Don’t be late so you feel you have to constantly apologize. Do wear appropriate attire for the interview. (If you do not know the environment call the day before and ask.)

Do not wear Tennis shoes with a suit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do bring a copy of your resume.

Do not bring a wrinkled or stained copy. Make sure it is up to date.

Do look at their website before interviewing.

Do not look at your phone while interviewing. Be sure that your phone is either off or on a silent setting. Do NOT answer your phone while in an interview

Do have a positive attitude

Don’t bad mouth your past employer, boss and or anyone else related to previous employment.

Do answer questions honestly

Don’t lie on your resume or in the interview. Lies will reflect someone you aren’t. Even if they help you get the your foot in the door, most transgressions will be brought to light and will affect you and your employer adversely eventually.

Do enjoy yourself

Don’t act needy or overzealous

Do explain your past employment experiences in as much detail as possible.

Don’t ramble on with stories that do not pertain to the position. Try not to exceed 45 seconds per answer unless asked

Do accept a great opportunity

Don’t waffle between jobs based on a difference of a few thousand dollars.

 Do think about YOUR career goals.

Don’t jump at the first opportunity just because it is offered.

Do read all of my blog post so I can use Google ads and I can retire. 🙂

Matt

Special thanks to Lindsey for the helping editing the post. Yeah Lindsey..

 

 

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New hire- ready set wait

A used pencil holder, pens with ink that’s dried up like the Mojave desert, a waste basket with someone’s leftovers from last month…year…who knows?  I think we have all started off jobs moving into less than ideal cubicles or offices. I moved into a cubicle and found cans of chunky beef stew in the drawers. Nothing says “I want you here” like the last person’s leftover can of chunky beef stew in your new drawer.

I think one of the most overlooked steps in the hiring process is the on-boarding of new hires.  Companies spend a lot of time being thorough in the hiring process to ensure they have the right candidates-personality interviews, relevant technical interviews, drug testing, credit check, signing over your first-born child.

Once they have decided on a candidate, the process is turned over to HR. Human Resources makes sure that the new hire procedure is followed. The new candidates get a tidal wave of information that is meant to inform, not overwhelm. Some companies try to cram as much knowledge as they can into a short amount of time to make certain that the new hire understands the company way and to cover them against anything bad.

Most new hires leave with a card in hand and tons of potential questions but they will need to let their ears stop ringing and their head stop spinning before they can articulate anything.

The hiring manager takes the new employee to his/her new domain (cubicle and office). Nothing screams “welcome” like a thick coat of office dust and a dated can of tuna from 2004. The manager shakes their hand and says “this is your cubicle, I will let you get acclimated, and then I will come check on you in a few minutes”. Minutes turn into hours. Then someone stops by and introduces themselves and asks you to help by jumping right in. Training by fire to commence in T minus 10, 9 , 8 , 7…. I think you get the picture.

Recently I had a consultant start a new position after having given a two-week notice at their prior employer only to find nothing ready for them when they arrived for their first day of work.

Pay attention to the details. Make a list of the things this person will need to be successful to perform their expected duties.   If it takes a company two days to get a security badge, three days to get their laptop for IT, and finally five days to access the system by my count, that first week amounted to very little work and a lot of waiting.  If as a consultant/new hire you see this happening, talk to your manager.

Above all, as a new hire DO NOT go to sleep at your desk as you wait for your access or laptop, yep that actually happened.

Managers, remind yourself of all the things you need to accomplish for the new hire to help them “hit the ground running” as opposed to “hit the snooze button”. You will reap the rewards of a faster ROI and an overall better perception of  you and the company.

Pick me, I can play..

I have started to see the job market change. I am seeing more jobs than qualified candidates.  Surprise!  In the blink of an eye,  how quickly the tide has changed from a saturation of candidates, to actively searching for “A” candidates again.

I have even seen some backlash against those candidates who have been without a job for over 6 months. Here are a couple of questions I am receiving from clients.

What have they done in the past six months?

What are they doing now to keep up their skills?

Were they part of a large downsize or were they let go for performance reasons?

Why haven’t they found a position? Are they too picky? Are they not technically strong enough?

Realizing that those questions are starting to enter into the mindset of interviewers can help you be aware and give you talking points about your skills and recent history.

If you are out of work, now is a good time to update your certifications. Certifications are a great way to show you are still actively engaged in your knowledge and ability to work. Participating in user groups and working on projects in your area of expertise can help ease the transition.

Look for different way to be actively engaged. Volunteer once a week at an organization. You would be surprised the benefits you will receive-from the work to the increased chance of networking.  The more you do, the more visible you are.

Don’t forget to ask the question in the end of the  interview. ” Is there anything in your estimation that you feel makes me unfit for this position.”  You can clarify from there but if you do not address this, you may miss your opportunity to explain your activity.

Perception is reality

This last week my family was given the Titanic of all playground sets. The behemoth had to have weight thousands of pounds and was put together with enough hardware to keep it together during a level 5 hurricane. My family was looking for a playground set for a while and was happy to take this off our friends hands. The take down and set up included several days of kicking, yelling, bruised knuckles and an occasional “Come on” screamed at the various beams of wood.

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Finally, after several days we succeeded in putting the playground together.  I turned around to let the kids jump on the swings and the new slide  only to see my kids lower themselves into animals as they tussled and fought to be the first child down the slide. I thought how crazy their actions were for the situation, had they thought about it for a few seconds, no one ever cares nor remembers who was the first person on the monkey bar, slide or swing. I just had to laugh.

My oldest daughter who was third down the slide sat dejectedly on the slide and sulked about being third not first. I talked to her and told her to get over the slide. I didn’t want it to ruin her whole play experience. Having to wait 7 seconds while the boys went down the slide first should not ruin her moment, life, play time.

I wonder how many time we are blinded by what we feel is unfair or unjust situation and miss many great opportunities. I know my daughter missed about twenty minutes of play time she will never get back because she felt slighted that she was not the first person down the slide. None of that matters now 1 week later.  Though, sometimes it’s easier said than done when we talk about emotions.

No sense in wasting time for things that in the end do not better you or make you happy. I have never met a content happy person who focuses on what didn’t happen as opposed to what did happen that was beneficial. 

I had a day to remember yesterday.  I could focus on: My car got a flat tire and the tire shop took two hours to put on my spare and send me to another tire store. I had to go back into the dentist because the filling they did last week is killing me and they had to redo some work. Perhaps I could talk about  the blood drive I went to that was so backed up it took me two hours to get finished. I finally got home at 9 pm tired and beat.

What I saw was:  Brent Bowen, a good friend, took time to pick me up and drop me off at the tire shop to get my car.  The company where I had to take my flat tire fixed me up and did it all while remembering my name from my recent visit six weeks ago. The blood drive netted 57 pints of blood for the Red Cross and the hospital systems in Atlanta, our goal had been 48. I was able to stay up and spend time with my wife watching a movie.

I guess in the end I was truly blessed to see that yesterday for what it was, good times.

What your friends and mom won’t tell you? Part 1

Today, we are going to talk as friends not as deep friends who know each others thoughts but as friends who are strong enough to tell you the truth without you getting offended. It is time to get to change. I know change is scary but as your friend I think it is time to do an intervention. I am willing at the sake of our friendship tell you what your other friends and even your mom won’t discuss.

If you want to be viewed as a professional it is time to start acting in a professional manner. It is time to get move your email address from high school back to just your highschool friends. No more uenvyme@yahoo.com, sexyprincess@gmail.com, starwarsfreakforever@hotmail.com, and I likedogsbetterthanpeople@aol.com. It is time to refine all of your touches. If you are out there networking and talking to people, why not set up a specific account just for your job search.

While you are looking at you email address why not take a look at all of the places that potential candidates first touch.

How do you answer the phone? Yo, hey, what’s up? I always like to err on the side of caution so if you wonder who the caller is answer with Hello. I talked to a potential candidate yesterday and he answered the phone Yo.

While you are practicing saying hello, when is the last time you listened to your voicemail message. Listen now and think about how it portray’s you. I recently called a friend who is actively looking for a position. My call went to voicemail. I heard a rather lethargic response. ” Hi you have reached “Chuck” I am not able to talk please leave a message and I will get back in touch with you when I can.” When I can? Really. Try something more professional. You can do it!

I hope I didn’t hurt any feelings but as your friend and hopeful recruiting professional I only want you to present yourself in the best manner possible.

Good luck.

How do I ask for the Money?

Recently a very good friend of mine interviewed for an internal position with his company. He called me shortly after the interview and said he was verbally all but offered the job. He was excited about the promotion but when the Director mentioned the change in salary, my friend was disappointed as he was looking for a higher rate of increase.  When we discussed the salary range offered,  the salary being mentioned was on the bottom of the range  and he felt he was being undervalued.

He  had decided  he was going to negotiate but wait until after the offer was made. I quickly advised him to negotiate before any offer was extended.

Ideally when an offer is made you should already know at what rate the offer is going to made or at least fairly close. You will want to have a firm understand of their ability/range to make an offer and they want to  know your salary expectations.  That will insure a high rate of success for the offer to be received favorably and then accepted. Knowing the salary facts applies to both candidates and hiring people.  I never like to guess.  Before the formal offer is extended you can have a conversation and talk about your recent salary history and expectations without you sounding like a money grubber. After the offer is presented and negotiations have begun there are battle lines being drown as the tone tends to get more serious.

As an Account Executive at Matrix I like to have conversations with my clients all the way up to the offer. I have found people are more receptive to listen and talk with an open mind before everything is set in stone.  I like to get the candidates to agree in principle to a salary and the hiring manager’s to agree hopefully to the same number.

Let me list why negotiations after the offer has been presented is less likely to be changed.

1. Affectively when you look to negotiate after an offer is made you are effectively turning down one offer in the hope for another offer. Once you get into this area the client can do three things.

A. Pull the offer – I have seen it happen

B. Decline negotiations – The offer is what it is

C. Negotiate – but at what costs

2. I see some clients that feel some rejection upon a start for negotiations after they have worked hard for an offer. Hiring Managers are emotional involved in the process. You never want to start a position off on the wrong foot. 

3. Many people have touched the offer to get it to you.  The Manager tells the Director she has found the right candidate, you.  The Director talks to the VP and gets the okay. The  Director tells the Manager to get with HR and get an offer together. The Manager and the HR rep get together to discuss the offer then the HR rep sends it to the VP to get it signed off on.  Finally the HR Rep sends it to the Manager so she can get it to you. The Manager has to go through the entire process again if there are negotiations after the offer.

I am a big fan that if you like the position and opportunity then you can have a discussion before the offer is made. At all times remember to focus on the job not the salary.

I like to say something  like this. ” I want you to know that I am very interested in the position. I can see my self working at (company name) with you and your team. I am interested in moving forward in the process. What is the next step?”

Hiring Manager “We need to get together with my Director and HR and put together an offer.”

Me ” That is great news. I am really excited about the possibility of working with you. Should I expect a call from HR to discuss the benefits, salary? Or is it fine to discuss it with you?”

I opened the door very casually about the salary and benefits.

Your discussion may not change the offer but it can’t hurt to have a discussion before the actual offer is made so the respective parties can be on the same page. Always focus on the career and opportunity and you will be able to have a chance to communicate your thoughts effectively and openly.

Good Luck

Matt Cheek

Life is like a bungee cord.

Like most high school teenagers during the summer, I looked for ways to earn extra money. I worked a cabinet shop and learned the value of shutting saws down before placing a hand on one, I worked concert security and enjoyed the pre-show rehearsal of some great bands (the one-armed drummer for Def Leppard is awesome!), and the most interesting job I had during my high school summers was as a Jump Master at a bungee jumping tower.

The tower was a metal structure that grew 90 feet in the air. To reach the jumping platform you had to climb the hundred, or so, steps to reach the top of the four jump platforms. Once you reached the top, the flooring was a metal mesh grating that allowed those on top of the platform to view the ground 90 feet below. It was a very intimidating sight the first time on top and many people refused to look down. I saw all kinds of people jump from a brave 5 year-old who jumped 5 times, to large tough men who screamed like 5 year-olds when they jumped!!

One of the most interesting things about bungee cords are that they are not large individual cords. The bungee cords are millions of small elastic bands weaved together around longer strands. Each band is weaved, for strength and elasticity, such that if the individual band is stressed to the point of breaking and some of the bands actually break, you are in no danger of falling. You can lose thousands of bands before any potential danger occurs. We would take the two broken ends and tie them back together at the end of everyday. It would not be unusual to have 30-40 bands broken each night after the jumps. We were required to inspect each cord and document what we had done to make it “jump ready” the following day.

Depending on the weight of the person, we had five different cords to use. I usually jumped on a #4 cord that allowed good bounce and stretch and was appropriate for my weight. A few times, I used a #5 cord but the strength was too strong and would not allow for flips and I had a decreased range of motion. The other cords we not sufficient for my weight.

As we go through life, we add another layer of elastic bands that help strengthen the impact from a our choices. We are a combination of all the activities, thoughts, trials, tribulations, opportunities and choices that are weaved together to make us who we are today. Throughout our lives we have the opportunity to experience LIFE at its fullest and every experience is worthwhile and can add to our bands if we learn from it. 

There are times that we have to sit back at the end of the day and tie a few strings together that broke during the day. Tomorrow we jump again, so we need to have our cords tied and ready to perform. If we neglect our cord and it really starts to look ragged and not functioning properly, we can get caught unprepared for a major trial or fall.

So the next time you experience the trial of losing a job or blowing the interview, or experience the blessing of a new birth in the family, remember your cords, your lifelines, and be ready make sure they are ready to keep you from falling too hard. At the end of the day, take a few minutes and look at your cords, then tie broken bands back together and make yourself stronger for the following day and go ENJOY THE JUMP.

Starbucks coffee and The Golden Rule

I recently walked into a Target super store. Like the store always clean and friendly. While I was walking in the store this gentleman walking beside me was holding a cup of Starbucks coffee, Latte, mochachino or whatever, like it was the Holy Grail. He was so very careful with protecting his cup to make sure nothing happened to his $5 cup of jubilus flavors. I thought in my mind,  people are going to laugh and snicker at us in twenty years about our love for coffee and the ever-present Starbucks. I don’t even like coffee but you know we all will be lumped in. Like everyone in the 80’s had bad hair. Mullets in 9th grade are the exception though. 🙂

I think sometimes we put too much importance on things that seem good and worthwhile but do not add intrinsic value.

A few different things come to mind in recruiting and interviewing.

1. Candidates relating experience in interviews that do not help the interviewer decide if they are a good candidate. Nice story though.

2. Asking questions in an interview that do not apply to their character or professional experience. ex. Questions out of a technical book that have no bearing on the technical expertise. I do not remember the books from my econ class in college.

3. Taking the candidate to lunch to see how they interact at lunch. I have never had an offer taken away from a lunch because they slurped their spaghetti. Now if you use the lunch to get to know them on a more personal level, I like this.

4. Overstating the level of competence of the technical group.  Basically unless the candidate can walk on water, they are not interested and if they can walk on water, they still need to juggle while playing hopscotch. Right….

5. Candidates like to brush off relevant experience. If I had a nickel for every time I have heard ” No, not that experience but I can learn it quickly.” I could buy 2-3 gallons of gas. 😦

I know you are not supposed to talk about religion in the workplace, a no-no but I think the “Golden Rule” can really help out a lot. Let’s treat others how we like to be treated-fairly, justly and put aside the irrelevant.

Now let’s break some bread and have a non-fat dirty chi latte and laugh at ourselves.

Use it or Lose it

I often talk to clients and when they say they need to hire a candidate they inevitably tell me they need a candidate who can hit the ground running. With the limit on money and resources they need someone who can do the required tasks with minimal supervision.

I often say the that the perfect candidate is the one that just left. That is the candidate that can perform the tasks at 100%.

Over the years I have started to see that getting the person that closest resembles the job description may not always be the best choice. The best choice maybe a technically strong, great communicator with initiative that has to something to gain by choosing the company.

I know that may sound backwards.  The benefit needs to be mutually beneficial.  A win for both employee and employer. what happens in 12-18 months passes and the person does not feel that they have a place to grow and flourish. They start looking for another opportunity.

I had a candidate yesterday that turned down the job because it was a lateral move. He was looking to improve his skills. He was looking for the opportunity to stretch his technical skills.

He did not want to lose the technical skills he had so hard to gain. His technical skills would start to dwindle.

I like to work out but I do not like to work out on “Legs” day. I know that since I do not squat, lunge, or leg press that often that when I do my muscles have started to lose some of their strength.  My muscles have started shrink or have gone into a basis muscle atrophy.

Per Wikipedia when you muscles go into atrophy it “decreases quality of life as the sufferer becomes unable to do certain tasks or worsen the risks of accidents while performing those”. Those things you do not use you lose.

We have all heard the saying “use it or lose it”.

That saying applies in muscles and knowledge. When looking for that right candidate you can think about today but make sure the long-term benefit will be a good fit as well.

Deja Vu

I had posted yesterday how I had surprised myself by running a distance almost twice as far as I had run in a long time.  The tough thing about learning how far you can take yourself makes it tough to do anything less than your previous best. You are setting yourself up for failure. You are quite right.

This morning I thought to myself I need to get after it and do something really hard at the gym. I thought about biking the 25 miles I need to go on an Olympic distance triathlon. In the end I decided that I was going to do a sprint Triathlon in the gym.

I decided to skip the swimming until the end because the is nothing worse than sweating after you have gotten out of a chlorinated pool. My skin feels nasty (did I just write that). anyway I started off on the bike and just nailed it. I mean I was Lance Armstrong except for the endorsements and the biker shorts, not my style. I am sure all the people at the gym are thankful for me sans biker shorts.

Anyway, I get off the bike and I start to run. It takes my legs a few moments to make the transition from running to biking. So I started off a little slow or in my case slower than usual. I quickly jumped my speed and initially felt well.

After my first mile I start to feel things in my legs. Phantom pains I would say. A tightening of  my muscle here, a cramp in my foot there. The doubt started to creep inside my head.

“You have done 12 miles on the bike it is okay to rest. No one will care if you stop. I mean you look like you have worked hard just ease up a bit.”

I kept running though. “I can’t quit” I thought “I just wrote the dumb blog post about not quitting. At that point I wish I had not written that post.”

I had the toughest time between 1-2 miles.  By the time I reached 2.5 miles I was so determined. In fact I cranked the speed up on the treadmill. My last lap I put my sweat rag over the time and count in my head down from 120 to 1 just to make sure I was going to finish and finish strong. I wanted to crank it  up really for two reason.

1. Finish strong. Always finish strong. Lance Armstrong can have livestrong I am finish strong . Rubber arm bands to come out soon at an Ace Hardware near you. j/k 🙂

2. The faster you finish the faster you can stop RUNNING. 🙂

So I finished in a happy 26 minutes.

Next on to my best and most favorite part of the triathlon, the swim. I mean it is not hard for me I grew up with a pool in Phoenix. I have flippers for feet, at size 14. I had a great first two lengths of the pool but by length 10 I was tired and it was starting to show. I know why they place the swim first in the triathlon, half the group in the race would drown because of fatigue. I finished the swim. I had done  a sprint  triathlon on an average Friday morning.

I finished my race and didn’t quit. I did that all before work. I am in the office by 8am. Good day here I come.

Deja vu  in the fact that two times in as many week, I have had some self-doubt, fatigue, self-pity and been able to push through it. I do not care what it is and how small the goal finish strong and carry your head high.

Good day here I come.

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