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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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

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.

Some days You might just surprise yourself

I am not a runner. I was built for other activities. Mainly eating. I am very good at eating and I really enjoy it. I like trying new foods. I am constantly going to lunch with clients each day. I was tired of always picking my food. I know what your thinking, “Oh that is so terrible, You poor guy.” I agree with you, poor me.  I usually picked the same type of food and had almost no variety.

So about a year ago I started to tell the wait staff when they come by to pick my food for me. Don’t tell me what you pick for me but give me your favorite food. Their favorite dish they serve. I have had some great choices. I received a Mahi Mahi meal at The Cheesecake Factor that was one of the top five meals I have ever eaten.  Just two days I ate at Armondo’s Cuban restaurant and had Paellas de Mariscos  that had very chewy calamari. Yesterday was Bison at Ted’s Montana Grill, good food, service not so much.

 I hope you see that I enjoy the eats.

I needed a way to lose the calories from my eats so I trained and competed in a Sprint triathlon last year. I didn’t have the best time but I didn’t die and I beat the 76-year-old woman on the Huffy bike so that was good.

This year, and especially after this past Christmas, I needed a goal to shoot for. I decided that I was going to run the Jekyll Island Turtle Crawl International distance Triathlon. Which consists of 1 mile ocean swim, 25 mile bike ride and a 10K at the end for good measure.

I was okay with the swim, at my weight I float more than swim. I can ride like the wind on the bike, thought those iddy biddy seats leave A LOT of room for comfort. I know they make them small for less weight but at my size what is an extra 1.275 lbs. Give me the seat with Springs in it.

The problem with whole triathlon scenario is that I do not like to run. I have run and run and run before. I do not like it. I do not like it Sam I am. I do not like on a track, I do not like in the rain, I do not like in a gym, I do not like it Sam I am.

I have struggled with the running portion. I am trying to run 3.5 miles twice a week without stopping. I can do it but I talk myself out of it. So three weeks ago I said that I am going to run the 3.5 miles without stopping and you know what I did it. I ran 3.5 miles. In a blistering 30+/- minutes. Not a land speed record mind you but I think I can still beat the 76-year-old lady. No bets but I think.

Last week as I contemplated how far I had run I wondered. How far can I run until I have to stop, drop and curl up in the fetal position from cramps. I thought it a good idea at the time but really decided that I am good with 3.5 miles once I was into the run.

As I progressed in my run I eventually hit 3 miles and I was still feeling pretty good so I spontaneously turned right and headed down in front of the Home Depot to extend my run. I continued running and knew of another mile loop that could extend my run to 4.5 miles. Can you guess what happened at the end of 4.5 miles? For those playing along at home, if you said I kept running you are correct. If you said something different 10 push ups for negative thoughts.

So I chose a different path on my run and soon my run became a mission to see how far I could really run without stopping. Towards the end of the run I was just trying to extend my distance to the next street lamp. In fact I counted down from 8 to 1 to get to the corner and finish. It was a great run. I completed 6 miles in under an hour and had a huge personal success. By time I was done that 76-year-old lady was nowhere to be seen. She was probably already done and back to the gym resting but in my mind I had won.

Some days it pays to see what you can do, how far you can push it. You might just surprise yourself.

PS. I told this story to my friend Melanie. She had some of the same challenges running and said she had a mental block at 2 miles. We talked and she told me the next time she was going to run she was going to do three miles. Like  a good friend she reported back her success and told me on Tuesday that she completed 3 miles without stopping. Congrats Melanie

Good day, Good times.

Honey-do list

This past week my wife reminded me that her mother, sisters, and sister-in-law were coming to visit for four days. Now, this is not one of those posts that rag on the in-laws. I like my mother-in-law. She is nothing but a nice, hard-working, genuine person.

What caught me off guard was the level of chores I needed to get done for them to stay at my house. I think we have a nice house, not overly extravagant, but very functional.

As I sat there on Saturday morning and looked at my list, I knew my day going to be long. I started to move down the list of chores. I like lists, they keep me on track, and I like to cross things off and see some accomplishment.

One of my “to dos” was to paint the front door and attach a new kick plate. My wife and I went to Home Depot and made our (her) decision. Upon returning home, I looked at the front door and saw that there was prep work needed before I could paint.

Prep work can be just as important as the actual job. Without sanding and prepping, the paint would not adhere as well, and the door’s surface would not look as smooth.

I had a consultant who was hired to fill a difficult position. He was very knowledgeable and smart.

I took him to lunch from time-to-time to check-in and see how things are going. His response was generally the same each time:

“Good. A little slow. I wish there was more work.” he said

However, I met with the manager this last week and she was very unhappy. She was very busy and had brought that consultant in to help her finish some projects. She explained that every time she assigned him a project, he ran with it.

The problem is that she had never told him the “companies way” of doing things. She figured he was senior consultant and he should know how to do the work. But, they ended up having to redo some of his work to match the company requirements.

He was completing the projects all wrong. He needed to learn the “company’s way” of doing things. She readily admitted she needed to spend more time coaching him. And when I talked to the consultant, he admitted they had just turned him loose.

She figured, much like my door, since the paint was already on there, no real prep-work was needed. The consultant didn’t see the need to change to meet the needs of the company. After all, he knows the software. But just like the door, there needed to be some adjustment to make sure things were done correctly so the paint (work) would function as needed.

I think many problems could have been avoided through a simple dialogue of the needs and expectations of the project.

I asked for feedback several times as I painted the door. In the end my wife said the door looked good. My only problem,was that five more “to dos” came in while I was trying to paint the door.

Good luck and good times.

String Cheese and Oreos

The new year is upon us. Out with 2009 and in with the 2010. I am happy to back to work so I can get some rest. With all the things that go on in the holidays I think it becomes more stressful than regular work.

The new year means going back to work and checking on the things you left undone or needed to complete from the Holidays. My cubemate came back to a little less than 400 unread emails. It took her a couple of days just to sort through the deluge of information and questions.

I struggle to remember what I need to do from yesterday.  You can ask my wife she has to even write me a detailed list for the grocery store because if not it is string cheese and Oreos for dinner

Imagine trying to remember where I had left off from 2-3 weeks ago. If you are looking to change careers or gain a new career, do not assume that people remember anyones status from December.

Now is the time to call, send emails, send up the flares.  Personal contact being the best. It’s easy to glance at an email and forget. It takes effort to talk. Start trying to touch base with everyone.

“Everyone” you ask.

“Everyone” I say.

I give you an example. I talk to people all day about positions and resumes. I had a candidate referred to me with great marketable skills.  I didn’t have anything for him then but I asked him to call me every week or two to check in and I would call him if anything popped up.

Long story short he doesn’t call and I forget. Several potential positions come and go that were potential positions of interest. I was invited to a Networking event two months later and guess who I run into, my candidate. I tell him to call me the next day. He doesn’t call, which baffles me, but I receive a job  for the exact skills he has and in the industry he just left.  I called him and we end up setting up an interview. None of that would have happened if we would not have talked the day before.

Timing is everything. Time to reach out. I know a lot of people do not want to bother their friends and acquaintances about their job search. I have never heard a friend say ” I am tired of trying to help my friend get  a job.” If they did they weren’t a  true friend. People understand the economic times.

Companies are hiring. The most recent jobless numbers are down. While we do not know all the factors, there are people getting hired and starting new positions right now.

While job boards are good the highest percentage of positions are filled through networking.

Good luck and go call someone.

Don’t hibernate your job search

Contrary to common belief the start of the Holiday season does not end all hiring until the second week in January.

I had asked a friend how her husband’s career search was coming. She stated ” We have given up and were waiting until the new year to start the search. Nothing happens during the Holiday’s.”

What! What what!! I would have said triple what but I think there is a trademark on that.

I told her that hiring does not stop at the end of the year. In fact some of my busiest weeks are in December. I am currently seeing an uptick in openings.

Last year I had a candidate who found a position for the Holiday season. She had done such a great job for them in the holiday season that they decided to kept her on and she is still there one year later.

I can go on about people I know who have achieved career zen in the Holiday season when other people picked up their toys and went home.

I will make my remarks specific to IT as most of the IT positions I deal with are in the Technology realm.

1. Projects slated to get completed this year maybe behind schedule and need a person to help them finish it before the end of the year. (I received two of these jobs this week.) I did have a client a hire a contractor from me. They extended the contract and now are making her a fulltime offer.

2. An organization has had a Developer or DBA opening during the year and they have to fill the position or they will lose the slot in their organization in  if it is not filled by the end of the year.

3. IT talent is very competitive. Even now I am seeing Great candidate receive multiple offers. Companies are looking for a jump in the company next year and are working to secure top candidates before early next year.

4. The company has had some attrition and they need to back fill the position.

5. The company is looking to upgrade their talent as they feel they can get some additional experience or knowledge from the marketplace. (I have two of these types of positions right now).

Unless you are a polar bear and can hibernate through the winter, now is a great time to be out there marketing yourself. I can’t guarantee you will find a job but you will be miles in front of the candidates who take the month of December off.

Tell me your thoughts.

themattcheek.wordpress.com

Funny and not so funny ways to not get hired – Interviewing Mistakes

Recruiters, HR people and anyone who has ever interviewed some has been apart of Interviewing Mistakes. I gathered a list of interviewing backfires that I was involved with.

– Showing up to psych test wearing jean cut offs and a tank top. (Just a side note jean cut offs are not allowed anywhere, sorry if that offends any Florida Gator fans. 🙂 )

– A candidate is interviewing with a hiring manger and when he was asked about a time he had to work with difficult people at work what did he do. The candidate replies ” Well we had a #$%@& in our office and everyone hated her but I was able to get along with her. ”

– Lying on your resume. Big no no. When a candidate was asked specific questions about certain technologies on his resume. The candidate admits well they had it at the office but he never used it.

– You send a thank you note with the wrong company attached to the note.

– I was interviewing a potential candidate and I asked a questions only to be told ” You already asked that before.”

– When you are asked to tell the Hiring Manager about a time that you used your specific experience, like what is in your resume, to solve a problem. After about 5 minutes you reply ” I don’t think I have any experience like that.”

– I had a candidate who had an interview and brought her kids to the interview and made them wait in the waiting area.

– A Customer Service Representative was asked about her customer service skills replies “I do not like to talk to people.”

– A candidate comes to the interview wearing so much perfume the Hiring Manager had to seek medical treatment from the fumes. A note on wearing perfume in interviews was sent to the recruiting company shortly there after.

I am sure that given the chance to talk or dress differently they would definitely choose differently. Sometimes nerves get the best of us.

If you have your own story please send it to me. matt_cheek@matrixresources.com

resume

Resume are so subjective. Each individual has different thoughts and feelings about how to format resumes and what is pertinent information to include. I have heard that people look at a resume anywhere from 7 – 20 seconds. In some cases companies have software that go through the resume and looks for key words before it even hits the database for a hiring manager looks at the resume.

What constitutes a good resume? I have three things that I feel need to be in a resume.

1. Summary – If I didn’t have time to look at your resume and all the time I had was 7 seconds and I read your summary would I get a some pertinent information that would force me to read further. I like 5-7 bullet points that tell me who you are, then in the resume you build your case for putting those bullet points up front.

2. Be Specific – Tell me what you have achieved. Tell me what you worked on. I had a candidate come in to prepare for an interview and she kept  telling me what “we” did or achieved. Since the company was not hiring “we” I wanted to make sure she talked to her strengths and achievements.  She is the one they care about.

It is acceptable to improve your resume for each position. Find out as much about the position before you submit your resume. Talk to the recruiter you are working with, call the company and talk to someone in the department. Perhaps you can find them on Linkedin. It does not hurt to try.

3. Be truthful – Always put your actual experience on your resume.  I know this is silly but you would be surprised. Better to not get the interview then get the interview and for them to think poorly of your character. Even in Atlanta with it’s 4 million people I have seen people  excluded from interviewing at companies because they were not truthful at an interview and the manager moved on to another company and the manager remembered the resume.

Those are my initial thoughts on resumes. Let me know your thoughts or have any other points.

 

Mattie Matt

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