Category Archives: Job Hunting

Millennials and The Job Market

We hear endlessly how the baby boomers are holding on to their jobs longer and longer and depriving the Millennials from employment opportunities.
This, of course, is utter nonsense. The baby boomers have a business knowledge which no 30 old can even comprehend.

You only have to go to any mall and see the infinite number of ‘help wanted’ signs in their windows, as well as the complaints from small business owners that no one wants to start at the bottom anymore.

Ask most baby boomers how they got their start and you will hear about people holding down 2 – 3 crappy jobs while going to University at night to get a degree. I am one of those.
Did most of us have a career plan ? For the most part, we didn’t even know what that was. Did we have a plan? Some people had a ‘life’ plan, but beyond that, most people had absolutely no idea what they wanted to do in life. However, by working in numerous industries, at one point something jumps out. Many of us continue to work nights and weekends to service clients. The business world does not shut down after 5 pm.

Some of the complaints we hear are due to sheer laziness, others do have merit.
Companies no longer hire dozens of students straight out of University and train them like they did in the past.It is costly, time consuming, and today’s youth do not exhibit the loyalty traits of the past.

But, how is it that the children of first generation immigrants find jobs, buy homes and drive nice cars?? Simple. Because they will do ANYTHING to earn money. No job is too menial, they will hold down 2-3 awful jobs to finance their education and they save, save, save. They don’t expect to wear designer clothes and drink expensive coffees. They often wear hand-me-downs and bring food from home. Some of the stories I have heard over the years about what people went through to come to Canada are extraordinary. From prison camps to just about everything in between. I know many Vietnamese boat people.
These people work hard and NEVER complain. Being in Canada is everything to them.

So, some words of advice in your job hunt:

If you score a job interview,

don’t expect instant gratification. You cannot expect to graduate with no work experience and earn $60,000 or more, furthermore, you are not the only applicant.
* Nothing is worse than interviewing someone who thinks they are too good for the job. You have to START somewhere.

* Your Mother may think you are beautiful, brilliant and special, the rest of us think you are arrogant, self centered and lazy.

* Up-talking and interrupting the interviewer is a guaranteed way to ensure you are NOT hired.

* You have no business experience, yet you sit in the interview voicing opinions on how YOU think the Company could be run better. Really???!!

* If you are even remotely serious about your career, DO NOT tell me about your children or plans to have 5 of them.

* I do NOT care if you think you are green. You are not.

* Having absolutely NO experience of any kind on your resume whether volunteering, or anything else, tells us are extremely lazy and not even remotely ambitious.

* If you turn up for a meeting and are not well dressed, your hair is uncombed or greasy, your hands and nails are dirty, your shoes are unpolished, clothes are not washed or ironed, you do
Not shake hands, do not wait for permission to sit down, do not establish eye contact with the interviewer, and speak to them as if they are stupid, it is over before it has started.

* do NOT tell us how your last boss was stupid. Maybe he was by hiring you.

* If there are no super jobs where you live, don’t complain, MOVE, many of us did.

* Don’t sit in my office and tell me how jealous you are that I get to work in splendid surroundings. I worked 70-90 hour weeks for many years, and continue to do so.

* Just because you actually turned up for the interview does not ensure you will get the job.

* no one cares how busy you are, be on time, or just slightly early. That does NOT mean one hour early. That is rude.

* Playing with your mobile phone, or answering calls during the interview, as if your phone is more important, tells the rest of us you are not even remotely interested, or remotely polite.

* The inability to ask questions regarding either the job, the company or the interviewer does not inspire confidence.

* Telling the interviewer about your vacation plans will ensure that you will be permanently on vacation.

* Do not post a fake resume or fake University degree. Most of us can see past it, and do not want to employ frauds.

* Many companies want to ‘try and buy’ be open to trying a new approach.

* Unless you have a PhD in Astrophysics and speak 5 languages, be realistic about your employment options and salary requirements.

* Don’t tell me you are in a hurry, you are important or you are busy. I will gladly hurry you OUT.

* Do NOT name drop. EVER. I don’t care how important you think you are or who you may have seen from a distance. Unless you are interviewing for a Senior Marketing Role or that of a
Government Lobbyist, it is of no interest whatsoever.
A Variety of part-time jobs, spoken languages, travel, University Degrees, and even a PhD are wonderful. Add to that a willingness to travel and learn, and take whatever is thrown at you, will
Guarantee success. Also, remember it is a big world out there with a lot of competition. The world does not stop doing business after 5 pm. Nor does your work day.

If you don’t want Companies to take advantage of you, don’t try and take advantage of them. Salaries, benefits and perks must be earned.
There are endless opportunities out there, it is a big world. Open your eyes, consider the options, EVERYWHERE, and go for it.
You might be surprised.

Hiring in the New World!

Due to the nature of our business, everyday someone calls me and complains about the lack of courtesy shown by large corporations towards potential employees.
People send resumes through job sites and never ever hear anything from the company again.

The problem with this, is that often these are the same companies selling to the very people they are ignoring. Whether a financial institution, clothing retailer or grocery chain, the lack of response can often result in the individual taking their business elsewhere, and telling their friends, which results in hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost revenue, simply because no one considered following up with a response.

The rhetoric that there are too many candidates and not enough time is not valid. A simple, polite form letter is at least a beginning.

Some large corporations have such outrageous hiring practices that they have rendered themselves impenetrable, the employees hiding behind their ludicrous policies in some cases are arrogant beyond belief, on one hand publicly decrying the difficulty in recruiting new talent while all the while putting up huge barriers. Massive arrogant, unimaginative HR departments who hide behind policies and voicemail. The instigators hiding behind meetings, outrageous rules, systematically blocking out new ideas and small creative companies who could bring them the imagination required to help compete in a fast paced global economy.

Having only ‘preferred vendors’ who meet ridiculous criteria, often set out by the vendors themselves to limit the entry of new players onto the field. Smaller players who are creative and have a different approach are not even reviewed, which is outrageous. Many use software packages to receive and filter resumes based on ‘key words’, but that eliminates all those who did not know what the critical ‘key word’ was. Someone may have extraordinary experience and imagination, but as they are missing 2-3 keywords on a resume, they are overlooked.
This is people being evaluated, not widgets. Understandably, if it is a technical widget which must be exact to the millimeter, that is one thing, but humans with varied knowledge, educations, experience and life history cannot be evaluated this way. Using software to go through resumes is insanity. Part-time employment, awards, international travel or experience, a variety of spoken languages, hobbies are not evaluated. The ability to learn is not. Like many things, if you have experience in a variety of industries, learning a new one is not a big stretch. Someone who has worked in complicated manufacturing can easily understand banking or retail, it is simply a matter of learning a new vocabulary and applying the ability to learn.

The other problem with these huge HR departments is that recruiters are trying to work cross industry. A 24 year old clerk with no business industry experience is simply not qualified to interview engineers, accountants, lawyers and IT professionals. Each of these specialties seek different skill sets, and only someone from the industry can understand the differences.
The example I have been using of late is the new replacement of the Champlain Bridge. There will be a requirement for a multitude of engineers, Structural Engineers, Seismic Engineers, Oceanic Engineers, Engineers specialized in Cement, Steel, Load Bearing and Balancing, and more. These people MUST be interviewed by their peers, not a 24 year old with no experience in the industry.

We need to put the hiring back in the hands of the Managers, so potential candidates can be evaluated and hired by their peers. Likewise doing references, as HR or a background checking company will NEVER get the type of references someone will acquire by going through the back door. The best references are NOT official. They are off the record.

Creative, competent, motivated people are the key to a successful company.

Proper hiring can be time consuming, expensive, but can make or break a company’s success. The knowledge base of every company walks out the door at night, and hopefully returns the next day. Without the people, there is no company. People need to be hired and managed with respect and decency, not treated with contempt.

Preferred vendors, price wars on recruiters and consulting firms, job boards, on-line job boards are not the best way to seek out the brightest and the best, they are the way to seek the mediocre, and the job hoppers. The best people are usually not seeking employment and need to be sought out and wooed. They must NOT be treated like a commodity.

Then comes the rhetoric on salary scales. Once again the so called research by HR and specialized firms does not take into account all the possibilities for compensation, as well as the fact that not everyone is motivated by same thing. The one of a kind skill must be compensated as such, and not put into the category of people with ‘x’ years of experience and a specific education.

Currently there is a huge demand for people with ANALYTICS experience, and we actually have interviewed many people with those skills. Someone with NO university education and 20 years of IT experience in 3 companies is NOT the same as someone with a PhD in Physics and Mathematics with 10 years of experience working with advanced technology and having been educated in 3 countries at the best universities in the world, speaking 3 languages and extensive experience developing algorithms to solve a variety of problems.

Trying to suggest that the PhD only has a few years of experience and planning to compensate him based upon years of experience is ludicrous and frankly insulting. The company with the imagination to pay him the REAL market value for his skills will hire a genius, and there are companies out there who will do just that. New York and California corporations are hiring these individuals for $500,000 plus incentives. Offering them $90,000 is simply insulting and ignorant, and will ensure that they will stay for a short while and then be gone, the knowledge along with them.
Our Company is a small independent Consultancy working with Fortune 100 and 1000 clients internationally, as well as funky start-ups. Salary scales range from $100 – 500,000. We meet people from all over the world with extraordinary backgrounds and life experiences, which give them a view on the world and best practices from afar.
For example, we are currently working with one individual with extensive experience in Banking and Mobile applications to seek a position within a Financial Institution in Hong Kong. He is not Asian.

Often we find ourselves seeking individuals with ‘tough skills’. These are people who are highly valued and can bring enormous success to the right company. Why would we want to put them in a corporation obsessed with salary scales based on ridiculous criteria like age and number of years of experience?? A company which does not value imagination or a cross section of types of experience will only seek to pigeonhole people and the bright ones will not thrive, they will leave.

Companies need to recognize that 10 people with 5 years of experience and a Bachelor’s degree are not great criteria for establishing worth.
Have they travelled? Worked abroad? Speak other languages? Held part-time employment? Have super hobbies?
Someone who has worked in a small start-up where people worked on average 50-60 hours a week and had to get involved in just about everything imaginable in order for the company to survive, is not the same as someone who worked 35 hours a week in a huge corporation on one system. So how can a large company even begin to suggest that they should be paid the same?

Whether seeking individuals for permanent or Consulting mandates, all the above criteria MUST be evaluated.

Huge multi-national Consultancies are putting very junior associates on assignments for exorbitant hourly rates into companies to give advice which is frightening. Knowing how to ask questions and write a massive report but having absolutely NO industry experience is not a guarantee for success.

A much smaller more nimble firm will have the freedom to seek out the expert with industry experience who may not be the best at writing comprehensive pretty reports, but will certainly understand the issues and can formulate ideas which make sense in the global marketplace of today, and for a fraction of the cost.

How do you want to write your legacy?? Genius like Steve Jobs who totally thought outside the box and hired some of the brightest people imaginable with totally different skill sets, and paid them a fortune, or someone who hid in their office and followed the rules??

Up to you.

Job Posting Boards – Candidate Perspective

Remember what your mother always told you? You get what you pay for……this advice is particularly applicable in the use of job boards.

All the so-called experts are expounding on how fantastic and easy it is to get a job through the internet, and they all have examples of friends who have successfully found a job that way. The big question is, do you want a job or a career?

Unfortunately, a lot of people are swayed by articles they read In newspapers, and believe everything they read. One must remember that newspapers are in business to make money, and not everything that is reported is fact, nor are a lot of the journalists particularly adept at research. They tend to give their opinions, however narrow, and that is where this is going.

We know one very nice gentleman who has now been unemployed for a year…why you ask? Certainly not due to his lack of technical skills, but unfortunately because he was naïve and posted his resume on half a dozen job boards. You ask, what is wrong with that?  Well, unfortunately, once you publicly post your resume online, anyone has the option of taking it and doing with it as they so desire, which means that if 5 personnel agencies take it and send it out to whomever they wish for whatever position they wish, you have no legal recourse. His problem? Several copies of his resume were sent to the same companies for all different positions at all levels of salary…..he looks like he is desperate and incompetent, although he neither the one who approved the submission of his resumes to these companies nor the positions for which he was submitted. Yes, that does defy reason, but, under the law, by placing his resume in public domain without limitation, this is the type of problem people encounter.

Resumes have a funny way of turning up on the desks of  people’s bosses, and the credibility of the individual is lost forever.

Another sad anecdote, someone had their resume turn up in the human resources department where they work, and are required to have Security Clearance as they deal with the military and federal government on sensitive issues. The human resources manager called the individual to her office, and repeatedly asked if the person was happy or looking for new employment, the individual repeatedly said no, he was happy. He was told ‘that is a pity’, when she called security who promptly cancelled his access codes, went through his desk, briefcase and coat, and escorted him to the door under armed guard. In seeking legal advice, he was asked how many times he was asked if he was happy or looking for a new job, when he answered over 5, he was then told that it was legal and he had no legal recourse against the agency who sent his resume unsolicited to his employer. He lost his job, he lost his clearance and was unemployed for a very long time.

Job Posting Boards – Company perspective

During an economic downturn, companies are constantly seeking new and improved ways to cut costs. However, one must always be careful that you get what you pay for. So, if you are looking for the best possible talent, it will absolutely NOT be found on a
Job board.

Job boards are for entry level positions, and job-hoppers.

Human Resource departments are always seeking out ways to grow their empires and show the executives how valuable they are, and by presumably doing all the recruiting themselves, they can cut out executive recruiters. Which, of course, is a total fallacy.

All of a sudden, human knowledge and experience has been reduced to a few key words. So, according to this, someone with 4 years of experience who never did any part time work,  is of the same value as someone who worked constantly in other endeavors.  Someone with 20 years of extraordinary knowledge and experience is passed over as he does not fit in the category, and may be missing a couple of key words. Semantics.

The other problem with this particular approach, is that what often happens is hat other skill sets are far more important than what was originally described. So unless a resume is written which totally fulfills the exact criteria of the ‘key word’ search, it is not considered at all. The most important issue, is the ability to think clearly and solve problems, and absolutely no computer search program can determine whether or not someone actually knows correct grammar, to speak well, think clearly or make decisions.

We recently ceased doing business with a local software R & D company. The company writes very complex code and develops a product sold internationally. Slightly over  a year ago, they hired a new VP Human Resources, a woman, who, interestingly enough, has no experience in HR, software or business. She was a translator. Very articulate, bright, and self centered, she temporarily occupied an HR position while the incumbent  was on maternity leave. With a new resume stating “Acting VP HR” she applied for new positions and landed this job. She charmed the President of the company who employed her, and Immediately set forth to re-organize the department and fire those who didn’t have the image she wished to present. One of the people had been with the company for years, and was highly competent, however, she is dowdy.
Her next plan was to eliminate all external firms. 

First she insisted that all current vendors reply to a lengthy “Request for Proposal” regardless of their previous successes with the company. This was her way of saying that she would only do business with those she liked, as no one else was aware of her selection criteria. Only a scant 2 months later, she announced that only one firm would be doing business with the company and all others should cease and desist calling any of the executives of the corporation.

One must mention at this point, that the company was growing and looking for over 30 highly technical people with security clearance. Her next step was to post all the positions on job boards on the internet. She fulfilled her goal of receiving many resumes, so many so, that she had to hire 3 more clerks in HR to read and process them. As this took place during a recession, the internet was flooded with people seeking employment. As the clerks were not seasoned IT professionals, they had the hiring managers review and interview dozens of potential candidates as opposed to actually doing their work, which resulted in them working nights and weekends to keep up. They did hire successfully, from her point of view, and due to the economic situation, they offered low salaries which people snapped up. She looked like a genius. All those new hires, no fees to outsiders.

Now, you are probably wondering why I am continuing to discuss this highly successful woman. One year later, over 40% of her new hires had left. After one and one half years, over 50% had left. At the end of year 2, the company was obliged to cancel a $20 million project as it was impossible to complete on time. The company paid severance packages, outplacement, and was put up for sale. Their credibility in the market ruined.

It is not the cost that is important but the quality. The majority of the people hired had only accepted the positions as they needed to pay the rent. They were offended at the low salaries and felt absolutely no loyalty to the company. As soon as something better came along, they resigned and moved on.

The company went from 5% turnover to 50%  staff turnover.

You make the judgment call.