Your Career Management Resource Centre

Category: Career Transition

Circled Myth text, with Reality text and red pencil

5 Myths About Summer Job Hunting

One of the great pieces of bad job search advice: “You might as well take the summer off.”

Really? The misconception that the summer is a job search “dead zone” is common, but nothing could be further from the truth!

Summer job search myths have been around for a long time and are repeated like mantras. Like other myths, they’re fantasies that shatter when scrutinized.

Myth #1: Nobody hires in the summer.
Myth #2: Nothing ever happens after July 1st, so you might as well leave town and stop networking.
Myth #3: Even if an employer has an opening, the hiring manager won’t have time to meet you.
Myth #4: You won’t find the job you really want in the summer.
Myth #5: You will have a better chance of landing a job if you wait until September.

The reality is that in today’s highly-competitive business world, no company or organization can afford today to go to sleep for the summer.

  • There is too much change.
  • Too much new technology to absorb and launch.
  • The volatility of change is accelerating every day.
  • New competitors, big and small on a global basis are looking to seize the day, disrupt markets, steal customers, and grow.

Winners Come To Play – Get Out Front – Get An Advantage

Myth #1: Nobody hires in the summer.

There are 4 reasons companies may hire in July and August:

  1. The summer months don’t affect much of a change in most businesses. There may be more employees on vacation, but activities roll along just like any other time of the year. Few vacations are more than a week or two.
  2. Many companies have fiscal years that start in late summer or fall. This means they have new budgets, new growth plans, or new process-improvement initiatives and they will need resources in place to get the next fiscal year off to a solid start.
  3. Contract positions to cover for employees who experience immediate changes in their lives can open up at any time. And these contract positions, can lead to full-time employment.
  4. This is often a time to finally make resource changes to enable searches to build management or front line strength. That creates job opportunities for you.

Myth #2: Nothing ever happens after July 1st, so you might as well leave town and stop networking.

  1. Surprise! If you continue your job search throughout the summer, you won’t have as much competition. Because so many people believe in the myths, it’s a perfect time to be out there. And It is often a good time to meet with a recruiter.
  2. Active job seekers know the opportunities are there and go in with a positive attitude.
  3. We often hear that the summer atmosphere makes people more relaxed so when you do get in to see someone, they tend to be more open and available.
  4. The summer months create social opportunities to network: neighbourhood BBQs, sporting events, and cottage parties. Don’t let those opportunities slip away.

Myth #3: Even if an employer has an opening, the hiring manager won’t have time to meet you.

Scheduling networking opportunities may be slower during the summer due to periodic vacations, but even if the process slows, it doesn’t stop.

The interviewing process may also take a bit longer with hiring managers in and out of the office. And you may have to meet with the different company representatives at different times in order to meet all of the players involved in the decision-making process. But the process does not stop. If there is a sense of urgency to hire and on-board new hires, it may not slow at all.

Avoid “time anxiety”. It will only unsettle you and cause you to prematurely shut your search down. The old adage is true, patience can be a virtue.

Myth #4: You won’t find the job you really want in the summer.

Really? You’re just as likely to find the job you really want in the summer as in any other month. Our experience with clients over many years proves this.

Myth #5: You will have a better chance of landing a job if you wait until September.

If employers have a need, they don’t care if it’s March, July, December, or January. Hiring isn’t focused on the time of year – it’s focused on the business need.

Early summer is the perfect time to get ready, research, prepare SOAR stories, and do on site reviews. Then no matter what happens or when it happens, you are prepared.

During the summer, job candidates need to make sure they are available. The thought that someone will come in on Friday of a long weekend if need be will tell potential employers a lot about who you are. It happens.

Executive Career Transition

The Case for Executive Career Transition Support

Branding is a consideration for all of us; personally, professionally and corporately. Our brand is best described as what others say about us when we’re not in the room.  And it’s what those leaving our organization say about our company once they’ve left. Historically, that may not have been an issue. In today’s world of social media it is an issue of significance.

Severance is one piece of a separation settlement. Another critical component for the departing executive is transition support. Managing an executive level job search is not an intuitive exercise. Many presume the exiting leader must have a substantial network and healthy financial reserves; and therefore, requires no support to land a new role. While a strong network assists a transition, it can be a hindrance if mismanaged, which is quite likely to occur with the unitiated. On an emotional level, no amount of money can dissolve the impact of losing a job. For many, the role and its accompanying title, are how they are known and how they define themselves. A well-structured executive career transition program is mutually beneficial and should account for the following:

  • Organizational Reputation: For purposes of this discussion, your corporate brand is what exiting employees will say about the way they were treated upon departure. While a generous severance is typically seen as prudent, it offers no guidance or support to navigate a transition. It is  the combination of severance and transition support that engenders positive feedback.
  • Respect and Dignity: Affording the support of an experienced executive advisor upon exit optimizes the likelihood of a smooth departure and helps to manage the emotional reaction of a departing executive.
  • Survivor Productivity: The inevitable communication between the departed leader and his or her team can have a significant impact on engagement and productivity among your remaining talent. With well-conceived and comprehensive transition support the former leader is more apt to talk about how well he or she is being treated.
  • Mitigated Attrition and Increased Attraction: Amongst the surviving team, knowledge that a former colleague is receiving fair treatment decreases the “abandon ship” tendencies – the inclination to aggressively look for job opportunities outside the organization – and forms an attractive element to candidates considering joining the team.
  • Mitigated Litigation: Most employment lawyers will attest to the fact that fair and equitable treatment of the departing executive pays dividends in the short, medium, and long term. Any perceived saving by offering minimal severance, and little or no transition support is a false economy.

The presumption that executives are insulated from the effects of forced transition by the content of their employment contract or the severance they are offered on departure, that as an executive they are or should be better equipped to cope with an unexpected transition, or that they have ample money and will thererfore be fine, is flawed thinking. All the research would argue to the contrary. “My former employer treated me extremely well. The support I was provided through the transition was exceptional. I appreciate all they did for me” is the message you want coming from your departing executives. It strengthens the organizational brand, engenders confidence in the remaining team, and meaningfully mitigates the negative impact of these types of changes.

Richard Bucher is Vice President of  Career Transition at Optimum Talent and  a regular contributor at the CBC.

SuccessFinder and Your Behavioural DNA

From Pathfinder to SuccessFinder

It’s in each and every one of us to be successful in the work world.  For individuals the question comes down to what type of work will speak to our potential, offering an engaging and rewarding career?   For organizations, the question is how to source, develop and coach their human potential into profitability?  The answer to both these questions is SuccessFinder!

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SuccessFinder is the premier psychological assessment that interprets an individual’s behavioural traits against over 500 job roles to determine that success and engagement.   Learn more about your behavioural DNA and predicting career and organizational success from our colleagues at SuccessFinder.

Video Interview

Is your video recruitment merely a cattle call?

Approximately 4 years ago I worked at a large talent resourcing firm. The standard practice was to require candidates to video record answers to questions as a means of excluding them from the hiring process.  Here’s what I mean:

  • 5 -8 questions are emailed to candidates.
  • The candidates answer the questions via their webcam.
  • The video responses are submitted to the hiring company.
  • The decision to engage or eliminate is based solely on the video content.

One stated goal of this approach was as a time saver for the employer, allowing them to review applicants on their mobile devices anytime and anyplace.  I distinctly remember the sales scenario in which busy hiring managers could become more efficient by reviewing applicants while at the grocery checkout.  Another time saving facet to the pitch was based on the popular myth that a hiring manager knows within 5 to 10 minutes whether a candidate is a good fit.  Why waste a full 1 hour interviewing when all it really takes is a few minutes?  The system also made it easy to quickly issue a rejection email on the spot.  Sadly this approach is now expanding from junior office administration roles into management roles, and outside of the employment industry.

Corporate Canada claims that employee engagement is a high priority, and that employee productivity is waning.  If your company is unwilling to initiate a professional relationship in a meaningful way, then why would you expect engagement, effort and loyalty from employees?

While using technology is laudable, it has to be used appropriately.  Yes, millennials like tech, but they like human response and feedback more – the key component missing from this approach.  If you’re not going to be present during hiring, the first stage of employee engagement, then don’t expect your employees to be present either.   You can also expect the saving you’ve experienced by using this process to evaporate when you need to rehire.  Think about it, what a great little way for video recruitment to become a permanent hiring expense for your firm.
Here are some better options for your consideration:

  1. If you must use technology to interview, use a program like Skype that will allow you to interact with candidates in real time.
  2. As part of 1st round interviews to determine eligibility, consider foregoing the cover letter.  Instead ask behavioural questions which are key to the candidate’s aptitude for the role.
  3. Group interviews for certain roles can be efficient for your hiring practice.  While less formal, all hiring managers get a good comparative experience of candidates.
  4. Let the candidate opt out.  In rare yet innovative practices candidates have the option to try-before-they-buy into a role. Companies allow candidates to shadow a peer in their role for a few hours.  Candidates learn first-hand what is expected, learn up-front if they can do the job, and if they’ve determined the role is right for them, provide a better interview experience for everyone.

Organizations are run by people.  By nature, people are social creatures who share their experiences broadly.  The experience you provide translates into how your brand is perceived.  You can’t buy good will but can foster and cultivate it though your people practices.  Is your organization considering video interviewing?  What’s the state goal for this approach?  Are you pursuing alternatives to typical first round/eligibility interview process that you’d like to share?  We’d love to hear from you.

Diversity on Corporate Boards

Board diversity: Why what you see is what you get

Do you want the best person for the job? Perhaps subconsciously what you really want is the person who makes you feel the best about yourself, someone who reflects well on you. The type of person who will reinforce what success looks like, sounds like and most importantly, manages like. Since you are successful and you are in the hiring seat, this person will look a lot like you. Welcome to the very special tribe called Status Quo.

According to a recent article in Canadian Business, there continue to be too many corporate boards that have diversity issues. This is puzzling as there seem to be a number of reports that show board diversity has a direct impact on profitability:

Don’t corporations exist for the pure economic purpose of making money? Don’t they want to be more profitable? Or perhaps the better to ask is what these boards and their members have to lose? No matter how flat corporations become, they’re still hierarchical. Hierarchies allow some people to engage in assigning relative values to others based on perceived status and power. When you derive your self-worth from your corporate status then you’ve fixed the ‘ideal candidate’ for similar roles very narrowly.

In cases where board members are blind to how their power and influence place limitations on hiring and consequently profit-making abilities, corrective action in recruitment practices might be the key. According to Stefanie Johnson, David Hekman and Elsa Chan if there’s only one woman in your candidate pool, there’s statistically no chance she’ll be hired! Apparently when “one thing is not like the others” it signals that you’re different from the norm, that you’re different from the tribe. Instead the board needs a new norm, one in which a different candidate cannot be discriminated against so easily. This quick video explains how inclusive hiring can be facilitated:

So what do the boards of companies in which you hold shares look like, sound like, and manage like? Is there room for more diversity and consequently more profit?

Judges Or Auctioneer Gavel And Money On The Wooden Table

Reinventing Performance Management

When I was training leaders on the topic of feedback, we always joked about that day when you received the email, with many attachments from HR: Performance Assessment day is coming! It was universally viewed as a burden, one more thing to do. It was done quickly to get back to real work. The prevailing sentiment was, ‘Oh brother, I’ve got so many other important things to do right now’. This experience was consistent across 10-15 countries, different cultures and different sectors. I’ve never heard anyone say ‘what a great opportunity to work on my team’s development’.

One of the responsibilities of any leader is to support people in their performance and their development, and this activity is a continuous process. The good news is that when you get used to performance feedback as a continuous process, it becomes easier, quicker and definitely effective. You don’t wait until the next year for results, the results come daily.

Let’s call things by their real names.

In one of my classes, students were asked to role-play a performance review. The student playing the employee was arguing and debating every comment and point issued by his ‘manager’. I didn’t understand what was going on so I stopped the role-play and asked the ‘employee’ why he took this approach. The ‘employee’ explained that in his company, everyone knew how much money was assigned to a particular rating. So he was placed in the position of defending his salary. The performance review had transformed from a discussion to a negotiation.

What is a performance review?

There is a universally implicit belief that the performance review is an evaluation, and being evaluated results in negative psychological and emotional triggers. Traditionally these evaluations have been a judgement about past performance. The performance review process should really be about the future and about improvement. Consequently this means that the manager must transform from a judge to a mirror. In this way you create the right scenario, which is:

  • the employee is accountable for their ongoing performance
  • the manager is supportive of the employee in their role while keeping the employee performance aligned with organizational needs.

In short, the manager maintains the organizational context in which the employee performs and improves in their role.

 

New Mindset New Results

Transition – No Laughing Matter?

Remember the executive ‘tribe’ I wrote about in my last blog? I’ve been thinking more about what makes that concept work and what moves it from the equivalent of a support group for a bad break-up, to something special, unique and highly effective. One of the things that I keep coming back to is the importance of humour and having fun.

I know, I know, getting the heave-ho out of an organization that you’ve been with for some time, maybe even a long time, and where you’ve been a person of some significance and stature, is hardly amusing. Similarly, being unemployed and having to look for a job rarely makes anyone’s top five ‘fun things to do’ list, but bear with me a minute.

I’m talking about positive attitude and ‘growth’ mindset and all of those other good things, but I’m also talking about the liberating power of actually laughing. Laughing with other people, laughing at ourselves, laughing at the foibles of human nature and the ridiculous situations we can find ourselves in through a career transition.

Job search is serious business.  Truly it is and no one knows that better than I do.  But the ability to find the humour in a situation that is inherently not funny does a great deal of good!

People Laughing During Business Appointment

So often I have seen executives relax, listen better and really start to learn the key lessons of conducting an outstanding job search. I’ve seen them learn to laugh at themselves and share embarrassing moments – and help others learn, grow and keep it all in perspective by doing that.

Coming back to the ‘tribe’ concept, it is much easier to take suggestions, advice and counsel around the serious business of finding another job, from people that you’ve shared a laugh with. More often than you’d believe, I’ve heard executives say, “the best part of this awful experience was knowing that it would make a great story to bring back and share with all of you”.

I firmly believe that we learn better, more quickly and in a more sustainable way, when we’re enjoying ourselves – even a little. I also firmly believe that we do a better job of connecting, networking, interviewing and ultimately finding that next job when we’re able to keep it in perspective and continue to find the humour in the world around us.

Much bigger brains than mine confirm this. Carlos Davidovich, our exceptional neuro-management expert, says that “Positivism” allows us to take greater advantage of our intelligence, creativity and energy. Not only that, but it releases into our brain the powerful neurotransmitter dopamine, that has been proven to turn on the learning centres in our brain, allowing us to work harder, be faster and work more intelligently.

Now I ask you, who wouldn’t benefit from that during a period of transition and job search?

And the best part? This works even if we’re just ‘pretending’, taking the phrase ‘fake it ’til you make it’ to a whole new level in my opinion!

So let’s keep laughing – especially at ourselves!

Working Together.

Where did my ‘Tribe’ Go?

A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” ― Seth Godin.

Group of happy business people walking together on street

You’ve just been told that you’re no longer employed by your company and in most cases must immediately separate from your current tribe. What’s next?

‘Career transition’.  Two words that many people are not familiar with – until they run straight into them.  It is a concept that is often very misunderstood (write me a resume, find me a job); and comes with some pretty scary implications (I’m alone, I’m adrift and I haven’t the first clue where to start to look for a job). On top of that, most senior executives have not had to look for a job for many years, and even then, the job often came looking for them. So you can see what I mean; this is a pretty unnerving set of circumstances.

When John Donne wrote “No man is an island entire of itself” he certainly didn’t have career transition in mind, but it’s highly relevant to this conversation. One of the most significant things you can do to turn the adversity of job loss into a powerful opportunity for challenge, learning and growth, is to surround yourself with a group of like-minded executives.

For those willing to fully engage in the transition process and commit to being an active member of an executive networking group, the benefits far outweigh the initial discomfort:

  • Confidence: gained in seeing other senior, smart, capable and successful professionals going through transition
  • Camaraderie: a sense of belonging and a place to share your experience, learn how to ask peers for help and an opportunity to offer advice and support to others
  • Straight talk: an environment of open dialogue and honest feedback
  • Feet to the fire: a sense of ‘accountability’ within the group and by the group and the forward momentum this creates
  • Intellectual stimulation: a forum for discussion, advice, ideas; adjusting your mindset from fixed to growth; exploring other markets, approaches, ‘work’ concepts

But knowing executives as I do, you’ll not just take my word for it!

I mentioned to some of my past executive clients that I was going to write a blog about the concept of ‘tribe’ as it pertains to transition.  After they stopped laughing at the thought of ‘Margaret’ and ‘blog’ showing up in the same sentence, I asked them for their comments.  With typical eloquence, candour and generosity they said:

“A tribe can help create a sense of normalcy in a rather uncomfortable situation. It helps to remind you that you are not alone and there are so many others going through a transition who have done amazing things and who will go on to do more amazing things.” – Executive Client

“I see the world through a more compassionate and humbling lens. My own transition has made me a person who is so willing to help others, even before they ask! I totally owe this new purpose in life to the whole transition process and the tribe that carried me through.”  – Executive Client

“Having a tribe or network of like-minded individuals there to support you through the process is priceless” – Executive Client

Speaking personally, I have been privileged to experience the magic of this powerful ‘tribe’ connection time and time again – there’s nothing like it and the value is huge.

So get yourself a tribe!!

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Managers & Employees – How You Need to Behave During a Termination Meeting

I have been privy to thousands of corporate transitions, including my own, and in the process I have observed both good and bad behaviours from managers and employees. The impact of a termination for many of us is a defining moment – in an instant my finances, family and a million emotions flashed before me, all while I smiled and thanked the individual for the news. I know many people are thrilled with the news about their termination or have been waiting for a package, but in my professional opinion if you did not choose to leave there is still a piece of you that feels the loss.

My experience has taught me that the majority of people conduct themselves in a very professional manner and walk out the door with their professional dignity intact. However, there is a small percentage of managers and employees that behave inappropriately and leave a lasting impression that can never be reversed.

I have seen employees scream, cry, threaten suicide and even become violent. On the other side, I have seen managers act cold and calculating using the termination meeting as a place to review all the wrongs the employee had done in the past to justify the termination. 

My caution to managers and employees is to simply behave in a way that is professional, dignified and respectful during a termination meeting because after all the work you have done for a company, that is how you will be remembered.

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Below are some best practices for both managers and employees during this life altering meeting:

Managers 

  • This is the last meeting the person will have with the company. Remember to treat them with the same respect they received during their first meeting. 
  • Keep the meeting brief and to the point. Do not forget your compassion.
  • Remember, this meeting is not about you, therefore, regardless of your relationship with the employee it is time to keep your emotions in check.
  • Allow the employee time to talk or show their emotions, if they cry hand them a Kleenex and sit quietly.  It is your job to allow them to walk out of the room with dignity.
  • Practice makes perfect. Prepare for the meeting and then prepare one more time; practice your brief, book a room for privacy, ensure the documentation is correct, double check details like the spelling of their name, be clear on next steps such as when the termination is effective, who they should call if they have questions, etc.
  • Listen with empathy to their concerns and questions and help them understand that although you may not have all of the answers that day, you will provide the answers after the documentation has been reviewed.

 Employees 

  • No one remembers how you join a company, but everyone remembers how you leave.
  • The exit meeting is not the place to ask “why” or demand to know the reason you are being terminated. It is also not the time to demand to speak with the CEO or another executive. This demand will always be remembered and I assure you that the executive team always knows when an employee is being terminated.
  • This is not the time to ask if you can go back to your desk to pack and say good bye to your colleagues. It only serves to make it difficult and awkward on everyone, including your friends.
  • At the end of the meeting look the person in the eye, say thank you for the opportunity and shake their hand. It is time to leave the building. Remember, you will need these people in the near future for a reference, or simply for their good will about your brand.