Things you need to know – Part 2

Recently I had blogged about the need to revisit how opportunity seekers can help raise their professionalism through updating their email address and voicemail.

Now let’s talk about some additional friendly advice.

I know you are on  but do you know how to use it other than a resume dump. LinkedIn now boosts over 50 million subscribers and over 150,000 companies using their site.  In my opinion this is the premier site to look for top talent. I do not like to use job boards anymore.

The potential amount of people who can view your profile is enormous so it is time for an update for your profile. I see many profiles that list only the company name and title without any background about their work history or they have 1-2 sentences about their experience. It is not enough. I have a great Product Manager friend who is looking for work and he had two sentences that did not even begin to demonstrate his skills, needless to say we talked.

Now, LinkedIn is not a place to dump your resume and forget about it. LinkedIn is an opportunity to showcase your experience, albeit brief  experience and  any recommendations.  Good rule of  thumb would be 1/3 – 1/2  of your actual resume so usually I see 1-2 paragraphs.

 I  like to update something about my profile every week that will keep my profile in front of people as they login.  You can actually enter into the edit feature change a word and then change it back and save the changes and your profile will show a change in profile. People are curious, if you change it they will read.

Also look at who is looking at your profile in the “Who’s viewed my profile” on the right side of the page.  See if you can find out why.

The next friendly advice I will give you would be to set up some way to see the various job openings while maximizing your time.   There is nothing worse than wasting time going from job board to job board. I use to scan multiple job boards and company websites. On the front page go to the tools section, near the bottom of the page. In the tools section click on “Email Alerts”. The email alerts can be set up by many different factor like companies and position types. Every morning that there are new openings waiting in your inbox.

While we are talking about setting up alerts, Twitter is a place to find job . We recently had success finding candidates out on Twitter.  Here is the post I use Tweet Deck and have set a column(s) that allows me to see things from contract in Atlanta to PHP developers in Atlanta. Great way to make sure there are not passive jobs you have missed.

As a friend I hope this helps. Tell me any success stories you have found.

Good Luck.

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,,, and I 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.

Money Part Duex

Yesterday morning I received a call from my friend about the outcome of his conversation with his Manager over the proposed salary for his promotion. In a previous blog, I talked about a friend of mine who needed some advice about when and how to talk about salary.

Let me back up a bit and explain how he proceeded. 

My friend, we can call “Chuck” called the Manager the following day and discussed with him his concerns and thoughts on the proposed range of the salary. I think waiting for twenty-four hours after the interview to discuss salary or money, is important because if the Manager is excited about your candidacy, I like them to think about you in their position over the last 24 hours. Nothing ruins a good interview like calling up right after and asking about money, salary, vacation, and benefits. 

 The Manager asked my friend to put  his thoughts down into an email and send them to him. Chuck and I talked and decided that there were three key issues that he needed to address. I advised him to write the email in the following manner.

1. Thank the Manager for the opportunity and reiterate Chuck’s interest in the position.

2. Restate that the Manager wanted him to write his concerns in an email.

3. State with quantifiable facts for his 3 concerns and be very concise.

4. Talk about the opportunity and thank the Manager for taking the time to listen to his concerns.

(Side note: one of the reasons I left my previous company to come to MATRIX was the way they handled my and my wifes concern about the new opportunity.  Concerns can be a huge win win if handled properly.)

Tha Manager emailed the reply and went through each concern and qualified each one. In the end, the company chose not to negotiate the salary but the Manager did state that he thought that Chuck had handled himself well and thought even better about bringing him onto the team.

That sounds like a win to me.

I did receive some great negotiation steps after my last blog post. Here are some helpful and simple steps from Jennifer Kushell, President of “In any negotiation, think in terms of stages: courting, conceptualizing relationship, key deal terms, papering deal, tweaking” for simple yet effective advice.

Great advice Jennifer.  Thanks.

Let me know if anyone else has some other thoughts. Good luck.

Matt Cheek

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.

Hire the right person

I recently went to lunch with a C-level executive and a Director that reported to him. During the course of lunch we began to talk about the Director’s department and the pressure his team was under. I mentioned that I had come across a potential candidate that could be an asset to their team.

The executive proceeded to ask the director if there was a person to “Topgrade” from the team. This was not the first time I had heard about topgrading as other C-Level executives have spoken to me about the ability to improve their people.

I think we have all played Red Rover in school and understand the saying. “We are only as strong as our weakest link.”

The C- Level executive understands that there is constant pressure to complete more mission critical issues with less input. Studies that show the cost of the a mis-hire can range from 3 times the person’s base salary up to $1.5 million. 

I have seen several instance where companies are using this downturn to attract “A” level talent to bolster their ranks.
I think if you asked high level executives to rank different things in their organization they would agree that hiring is very important.

Earlier in my career I saw hiring and recruiting  in action. I worked for the Regional office for Orkin Pest control, a division of Rollins. I traveled to different branches and was able to see many different management styles.

In Denver, Orkin had one of the largest residential offices in the nation. The branch had problems with constant turnover and I joked that there was a revolving door in the front and in the back. Within a service oriented environment turnover is a revenue killer. At the Orkin office in Denver they had a very short-term outlook and constantly hired people who did not have the same career goals that were required. The constant turnover pushed those “A” level hires to the brink of quitting because of the extreme overload from picking up from the “C” level hires.

Orkin tried to help control the process by using personality and behavior testing. The branch management failed to see the value of interviewing in determining the actual fit  of each candidate into the organization.  

 In stark contrast, the Orkin Commercial division was very well-managed. The management had a keen understanding of their technical needs and culture. I was included on many interviews and had at several times recommended we hire potential candidates. Many candidates were turned down. I was told by my thorough Branch Manager that we were not looking for someone who could just perform the tasks required. We were looking for someone who excelled in the tasks. In other words we were looking for “A” level candidates.

I have never forgotten that lesson taught to me by a very smart and confident Branch Manager.  It was interesting to me how offices with the same internal messages from corporate took different approaches that had vastly different outcomes.

Having thought about it over the years, I really see how individuals who understand the profile and requirements of the position help to attract and hire top-level talent. So the next time you go to interview it may be good to look at ways you can attract and hire “A” level candidates.

Link to the book on Amazon.

Searching for a job can be a tough pill to swallow

Recently my house was besieged with sickness. I had one daughter with mono and strep throat, a son who sounded like a bull mastiff every time he coughed, and a little toddler who was slowly wilting like a dried flower because he was sick.

Any time I try to get my oldest daughter age 9.5 to swallow pills it’s like I’m trying to pull teeth. She hates swallowing pills. In fact, she tries different methods so she can avoid swallowing them. I try to tell her that if she will just swallow it, it will literally take her two seconds and the discomfort will be gone.

We have tried everything: smashing it up and putting it in a drink; leaving it in a glass of water hoping it would dissolve; once she tried chewing the pill but, “eeeewww,” that didn’t work.

Sometimes she even asks for advice, but in the end, no matter what I say to her, she is determined to do it her way.

I laugh sometimes to see the struggle.

The author Erica Jong is quoted as saying “Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.”

I am often asked for career advice from people I know in regards to resume writing, career paths, interviewing, and general hiring practices.  Most of the people I talk to know what to do. They know they need to treat the job search like a full-time job. They know that a small percentage of jobs are filled via job boards. They also know that they need to be out networking.

Then, why do they still sit hour-after-hour sending generic, non-customized, resumes to “black holes” on job boards? Rather than asking their friends, acquaintances, and business connections for help or leads?  Fear of bugging them maybe? Or maybe just the path of least resistance.

But, just like taking medicine there is a direct path of getting hired that has larger resistance, that is difficult to swallow, but in the end will save you time and energy.

I was reading a great book called “Take the Risk” by Dr. Ben Carson. He has a sample Best/Worst case analysis that helps to clarify times of uncertainty. It is simple yet eloquent.

We can ask ourselves four questions and from the answers we should know what we should do.

If I take a risk, what is the best outcome? What is the worst outcome? If I do nothing what is the best outcome? What is the worst outcome?

Sit down sometime and think about your current scenario; whether it’s a job search, a career change, or simply networking with people you don’t know, and ask yourself about the risks. Answering those questions has really helped me to take a few more risks and achieve my realistic goals.

For anyone interested here is the link for the book on Amazon.

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.

In for an inch in for a mile

If you are going to jump in to the deep end of the pool it doesn’t matter if it is 6 feet deep or 600 feet deep, either way it  is deeper than my head at age 11. As a child the deep end was always the scary end. It held the mystery and danger. I grew up in Virginia and Utah but moved to Arizona at 11. In Phoenix everyone has a pool and for good reason. I still remember on those 120+ degree days cooking an egg on the sidewalk.

Before I knew how to swim I use to jump in the deep end at my neighbor’s pool and grab the side for dear life as I plummeted towards the bottom of the pool. I thought I was crazy and dangerous. Now I realize how crazy jumping in the deep end was without the knowing how to swim. I was 11 and happy to live the “crazy” life. Shortly thereafter, I realized how important, and how much fun it was to swim. In fact the swim is my favorite part of the triathlon.

Recently I had the opportunity to do something that was outside of my comfort zone. The opportunity presented itself and I took it. I realized that I was jumping into the pool without knowing how to swim but at least this time I fully realize how crazy it is and that I need to learn how to “swim” quickly. You know what they say “go big or go home”. So in for an inch, in for a mile.

My crazy factor has diminished a lot  from those days in Arizona as I sit here and eat my Reduced Fat “Wheat Thins”. I wonder what my  11-year-old self would have said but at least I hope I can get a head nod from my new leap of faith.

So I am fully invested and look forward to the ride wherever it takes me.

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.

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