It’s Summer - Is Your Career on Vacation?

School is out, everyone is either on or going on vacation, and something other than work is calling your name. Sound familiar?

It’s Summer - Is Your Career on Vacation?Aside from seasonal jobs and internships, summer isn’t known as the high season for career moves. Most professionals just aren’t focusing on their careers in these months - but business still goes on. In fact, our data shows that job postings increased by 5% in the past eight weeks. On the flip side, candidate applications actually decreased by 14% - meaning that, at least for us, there are more jobs available, and fewer candidates to fill them, right now.

So while everyone else is working on their tan, it’s your opportunity to retool, get noticed, and land that killer job/career you covet. 

Below are a few simple steps you can take today to get started:

Focus

Not saying you have to be all work and no play. Want to get some sun? Grab your iPad and work on your resume while you do. Don’t miss out on the summer, but make sure your career doesn’t take a backseat in the meantime.

Learn a New Skill / Get Certified

If business is slow right now, then it’s a great time to get that certification that’s been on the back burner. Or maybe there’s a new skill out there that would make you more marketable. Be proactive with the spare time that you have.

Reach Out to a Recruiter

If the thought of looking for a new job is overwhelming to you, just remember that there are people out there who get paid to do it for you. Reach out to a recruiter specialized in your industry and fill them in on your situation. Maybe you’re comfortable in your current position, but would like to know if there’s something better out there. A recruiter can get a good feel of what you’re looking for, and find out if there’s a better match for you. For experienced IT professionals, you can update your job status here and engage with MATRIX.

Say YES to Happy Hour

There is a high volume of after-work events happening in the summer. Pick out a few groups (check out the MATRIX Events Calendar for some suggestions) that could be beneficial to you, and get out there and network. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 70% of all jobs are found through networking. You can’t ignore that number!

Automate your Job Search

This one doesn’t have to be daunting. Job boards, staffing agencies, and many direct employers have search agent technology built into their career portals and job boards. Spend five minutes crafting the perfect search, save it, then sit back and wait for relevant positions to land in your inbox. And don’t forget, many companies now allow you to apply using LinkedIn or Indeed.com profiles. And some (like MATRIX) even allow you to upload resumes and cover letters via Google Drive or Dropbox.

Lastly, don’t get too caught up that you forget to take time for yourself – after all, that’s what summer is all about. By adopting even a few of the tips above, you can keep your career on track without derailing summer plans and fun.

About the Author: 

Jennifer is the Digital Content Specialist for MATRIX. Her primary mission is to understand what information our various communities want and need from MATRIX, and to deliver it to them in ways that are enlightening, engaging and in sync with who we are as a company. She loves pop culture, Oklahoma football and the great state of Texas. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.

Posted in: 
Job Seeker

Make July Your Month of Independence

In the United Stated we have just finished celebrating the 4th of July. It’s a special time to Americans. Not only are there picnics and parades, there is an understanding that over 200 years ago people got fed up with the way things were and pledged their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” to making the changes they saw necessary for long-term success as a nation.Make July Your Month of Independence

July is also halfway through the calendar year, six months away from the hopeful exuberance of New Year’s resolutions. This makes it a perfect opportunity to make July a month to declare your personal independence from the things that are standing in the way of your resolutions and goals. Revisit those grand dreams and declare your independence from the tyranny holding you back – pledging with the same revolutionary fervor as the patriots did to make the changes necessary for your success.

Declare your independence from failure.

How are you doing on the goals you made at the first of the year? Have you fallen so far behind that you have shoved them back into a corner, pointedly ignoring them because you feel that you have failed?

This is the tyranny of failure. It stalks along beside you, assuring you that each and every time you try something new it will not work out and you will not be successful. Often it has helpers – your friends, co-workers, possibly even those closest to you. Regardless, the largest ally of failure is the voice inside of you. Before you listen to all these voices, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Have you given this goal your best effort?
  2. If you have – what are the reasons you could not be successful? Is it a lack of resources, knowledge or skill?
  3. How can you learn from where you are and make a plan to acquire what is missing – the resources, knowledge or skills – to allow you to be successful?

The great Roman general Marcus Aurelius asked the question a different way: “Does what’s happened keep you from acting with justice, generosity, self-control, sanity, prudence, honesty, humility, straightforwardness?” In other words, does what you perceive as failure change your basic nature as a human being? If not, don’t waste time being held back by the failure. Instead use it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Take that learning and growth into the future and continue on to achieve your goals.

Declare your independence from fear.

Television personality Mike Rowe tells a story when he stood before the camera to begin his first night as a host on the shopping channel QVC. He had a product he knew nothing about, he had no experience in live television, and he knew that QVC was not interested in on-air personalities who could not sell products.

In his story, Mike points out a key in declaring your independence from the tyranny of fear: Don’t hide your fear. Acknowledge that you are scared to yourself and to those around you. In Mike’s case, he started out his segment letting the entire television audience know that it was his first time, he didn’t know anything about what the product did, and then he asked them to get involved and help him out.

The audience responded by filling the phone lines to talk about their experience with the products, encouraged by Mike’s willingness to be truthful and authentic with them. Most importantly, they were willing to purchase the products being pitched.

What Mike Rowe did was eliminate the best weapon of fear, which is the uncertainty that comes with doing something that you have not done before. By openly acknowledging the fear he made it clear that he was committed to success, and was able to tap into those who were waiting for an opportunity to make that success possible.

Declare your independence from going it alone.

The story that Mike Rowe tells also shows the futility of trying to go it alone. Many people set goals – whether they are related to education, fitness or career – then attempt to achieve those goals in the absence of any type of support system.

The self-made man is a myth. Throughout history, leaders who have been successful have had carefully developed support systems around them. Whether they are formal advisors, technical assistants, or just sounding boards who can help in the development of ideas, a support system is invaluable in helping you reach a goal.

Make yourself accountable to those who care about you. It does not have to be a formal accountability framework; something as simple as online social media can be very powerful. When I first started a fitness program, I posted each day’s run to my Facebook account. This was not so much that I wanted to be sure that my friend saw me run, rather, it was my motivation when I did not want to go run.

Declare your independence.

Make this July your personal “Independence Month” – a month to recommit to the goals that you want to achieve this year. Adjust where necessary, learn from the attempts of the first half of the year, banish your fear, and re-engage with your support system. You have the second half of the year to make your goals a reality, and the experiences of the first half of the year to get you there.

About the Author: 

Kevin Dunn is a technology strategist, speaker, and thought leader with over 20 years of experience in highly available infrastructure, e-commerce, mobile application and payments, BYO Enterprise strategies, and the leadership of technical teams. Currently in independent practice, Kevin assists clients in creating innovation through a combination of people, process and technology. Follow him on Twitter @KevinTechExec and connect on Linkedin.

Posted in: 
Fun

The Three Hardest Words in the Job Interview

Joe was knocking the interview out of the park. I was a part of one of those abominable panel interviews and Joe had nailed a few hard analytical questions I had aimed between his eyeballs. The interview was less than half complete and in my mind, he had the job.The Three Hardest Words in the Job Interview

Then, it happened.

One of those traffic wrecks that you watch unfold in what seems like old-time, stop-motion cinema. Fenders crushing under the momentum of panic. Brakes squealing. And as quick as a Red Bull guzzling Mongol’s scimitar, Joe’s future with my company was lopped off unceremoniously.

And it wasn’t what he said: It was what he didn’t say. Joe could not say those three irksome words. The three words that separated him from where he was, and where he wanted to go: “I don’t know”.

The question was actually a pointless question from someone who had no business conducting an interview. But there it was: a soul-crushing, unfair question that should never have been asked, but it was Joe’s lot in this interview.

I am far from the first to suggest that admitting “I don’t know” is difficult. Just Google it. It’s hard. REALLY hard. I did my best damage control on Joe’s behalf because I can look past a few dents on an otherwise pristine Porsche, but his panic had sealed his fate with the others.

Don’t let this moment pass without trying it yourself out loud. Say it firmly and add a little staccato: “I. DON’T. KNOW.”

That didn’t feel very good, did it? It doesn’t feel very good for anyone, least of all me.

I’m asking you to commit yourself right here and right now to embrace this discomfort. Think of it like that tie you overpaid for at Brooks Brothers (yeah, you aren’t the only one): Once you get past feeling like the tourniquet is about to turn you into worm food, your step has a little extra spring because you not only are the right person for the job, but you look the part as well.

It’s like that, but harder.

If Joe had answered, “I don’t know”, he would’ve had a new job. And if he had some relevant insight, and was calm because he was prepared, Joe probably could have negotiated more money than what was on the table.

Listen to the power of these three difficult words when framed with the kind of wisdom any competent professional has inside: “I don’t know. But, if I understand your question clearly, here is how I would approach solving the problem…”

Joe was the most competent person that panel interviewed—by far—but that did not get him the job. Lack of preparation left him powerless. My passion is to help you find power through preparation. Wielding power with those three tongue-incapacitating words is a good start on mastering one of the most critical job skills you have never been taught.

In the rest of this blog series, I will share more techniques to help you interview with confidence. To interview with the confidence to speak those three despicable words.

The confidence to get the offer.

About the Author: 

Tony Plank is a polymath with an extremely diverse background including Information Technology, Law, and professional coaching. Three decades of success on both sides of the interview desk gives Tony a unique perspective on how to not just succeed in professional job interviews, but to master and control these critical career milestones. Mastering the interview demands preparation and planning. In an evocative series of blog posts, Tony will provide you with the basic elements of what it takes to walk into that next career changing event with confidence and walk out with the offer you want.

Posted in: 
Job Seeker

What It Costs When You Don’t Hire

Businesses operate on money and people. Hiring good people to fill your most pressing IT vacancies is a challenge that every hiring manager faces. It takes a definition of job requirements along with good interviewing skills and reference checks to recognize high-performance team players when you see them. It also requires teaching this skill to hiring managers throughout your organization. Recruiting is a vital function that could determine your success or failure as a manager or supervisor.What It Costs When You Don’t Hire

You have two main goals as you prepare to hire:

  1. Hire the best people available.
  2. Contain costs, but consider what a lost opportunity is costing you or a manager within your organization because of a failure to hire.

To help you evaluate the tangible and intangible costs here are several things to consider when making the decision NOT to hire:

  1. The impact of a shortage of employees could put pressure on the rest of your team members to the point that they become unhappy less productive. Some frustrated employees will quit.
  2. Employees could become vigilantes and they will secretly undermine you in an effort to spite you for being insensitive to the fact that more people are needed to do what’s expected.
  3. When you don’t have the people you need to handle the workload, you run the risk of losing your position in the marketplace to your competition.
  4. Look at every person on your team and ask yourself: What is the financial impact of this individual? To prove a point, try moving an untrained or unskilled worker into a vacant position and watch that person “weaken” your entire team.
  5. What if you don’t get your merchandise to the customers or marketplace on time because you don’t have enough of the right employees to get the job done? Maybe the production department has to shut down a line or cut a shift.
  6. Think of hiring as an investment in the future of your department rather than a liability. It’s a pay now or pay later task. Make sure that all of your hiring managers understand this critical concept too.
  7. Ask yourself how your team could change and become more effective with the right people. Ask your staff what they think it would take for them to become more effective.

Consider this four-step process when you are tempted NOT to hire:

Step #1
Calculate how much work you and your employees are doing right now that is “above and beyond” what’s expected and outside of their regular job responsibilities. Prepare a list of the tasks and then estimate the time that it takes to complete each one. Identify the work that could be handled by a newly hired person and thus relieve the others from the pressure that is mounting. This is easy to do and it will help you clarify in your own mind what makes the most sense in terms of hiring versus NOT hiring.

Step #2
Identify the new opportunities that would be possible if your current employees were relieved of the added burden they are now facing. For example, oftentimes clerical work falls on the shoulders of your professional or managerial level employees and it keeps them from doing their jobs.

Step #3
Make a list of the savings generated by hiring someone to pick up the slack. You might even prevent turnover and the associated astronomical costs generated by an employee who quits because he or she is fed up with what you are asking them to do.

Step #4
Ask yourself what it will cost to NOT hire in terms of your health and the health of your employees. Overworked employees are prone to illness and accidents and they often don’t take time to exercise and relax.

In summary, some of the cost savings and benefits that you have identified are concrete and measurable, while others are intangible. Your actual cost to pay the salary and benefits of a new hire should be weighed against the intangible benefits of hiring the people you need when you need them. Before you make the decision NOT to hire, evaluate the risks as well as the benefits associated with your decision. There are times when NOT filling a vacancy is the best, most logical thing to do. There are other times when the decision NOT to hire is a foolish, costly mistake that could impact your profitability for years to come. Think about what speaks for your decision and what speaks against it. Then do what you need to do.

About the Author: 

Carol Hacker is the former Director of Human Resources for the North American Division of a European manufacturing company, Employee Relations Manager for the Miller Brewing Company, and County Office Director for the US Department of Labor. Headquartered in Atlanta, GA, Carol has been the President and CEO of Hacker & Associates since January 1989. She specializes in teaching managers, supervisors, team leaders, HR professionals, and executives how to meet the leadership challenge. Carol is the author of over 400 published articles and 14 books including the bestseller, Hiring Top Performers-350 Great Interview Questions For People Who Need People. She earned her BS and MS with honors from the University of Wisconsin. She can be reached at www.carolahacker.com or 770-410-0517.

Posted in: 
Hiring Manager

Is Your Company Embracing the Evolving Workplace?

I came across this post by Chuck Blakeman on LinkedIn and wanted to share my own response to Dell’s study, The Evolving Workplace: Expert Insights. The study is broken up into trends that relay the direction of the workplace as we know it. Adding to my excitement was the extra attention paid to the technical aspect. I couldn’t be more thrilled about the direction they are presenting for the new working landscape. The facts and success stories of companies around the world following the trends are incredible. I hope the bigwigs and company leaders are ready for this movement. The world is changing as a direct result of technical advances, and the way we work has consequently changed. If you aren’t comfortable with it, you might be left behind. Let’s look at a few of my favorite trends highlighted in the article and ask ourselves if our employers are ready and capable of keeping up with the evolving workplace.Is Your Company Embracing the Evolving Workplace?

Crowdsourcing and Crowdsource service
If you haven’t noticed, it is becoming easier and easier to pull insight from people all over the world and have teams of people work cohesively without ever being in the same place at the same time. It’s like taking the ‘two brains are better than one’ concept and multiplying that to an endless degree; why limit your team to a certain location or time zone?

This idea of a readily available workforce at your fingertips: contract-based, specialized workers, available to solve required tasks when you need them, seems simple enough. These contractors get paid for the work they complete, so the more productive workers will have a higher earning potential than those with lackluster results. This can prove to be very lucrative for companies, allowing them to save money by only paying for what they need, when they need it. However, there are still concerns around job security, availability of skilled workers, and the potential gap between the good workers and the bad ones. We wouldn’t want the harder workers getting too far ahead of the rest, now would we?

Productivity measured in outputs, not hours
It’s hard to pick a favorite of these trends, but this might be mine. Result-based companies over time-based companies. Ahh… what a concept. Kill the 9-5 schedule and focus on the quality of the output instead of the quantity of the input. The pushback for this trend is the question of fairness. Being rewarded based on the quality of your work rather than the hours worked can potentially cause problems among teams. The former ‘clock-in, clock-out’ worker now will be paid based on results. Technology can help regulate this and provide viability of tasks completed by specific individuals along the way. The key is to agree on a set of standard of measures for valuing the output.

Values versus rules
Okay, I am going to pick a favorite. This is huge for me! Let’s face it – there is technology for employers to track what you are doing at all times. That being said, distrust of employers will put a negative reputation in the air and companies need to hold employee-employer trust as a top priority. Can you imagine if employees preferred to work for value-based companies with less rules and more of a common set of principles? Employee-employer trust cultivates productivity and sustainability. This trend is key to holding everything together.

My takeaway is that change is good, happy employees are key, and with the right values in place and more employee-employer trust, companies will be able to keep and attract the right talent for the future. Which trend do you resonate with most? Leave a comment below or tweet me @TechRecruit4U.

About the Author: 

Rachel is a Technology Recruiter for MATRIX. She works for top talent IT professionals and gets them to the next stage of their career. Her chief goal is to link their professional goals with personal happiness. She loves flea market flips, anything DIY, and traveling. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Posted in: 
Hiring Manager