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Thinking of Testing the Job Market Waters? 12 Questions to Ask Yourself BEFORE Taking the Plunge

Are you feeling under-appreciated at work, underpaid or simply dissatisfied? Perhaps you’re thinking about seeing what else is out there. Before you submit a resume, apply for a job or talk to your favorite recruiter, take stock of your abilities and accomplishments. Be prepared to sell yourself by asking and answering these twelve questions before you start looking around for a new opportunity.

  1. Did you help to increase sales, productivity or efficiency?
  2. Did you save your company money?
  3. Did you institute a new system or procedure?
  4. Did you identify a problem in your company that had been overlooked?
  5. Were you ever promoted?
  6. Did you train anyone?
  7. Did you suggest any new programs for your company that were put into effect?
  8. Did you help to establish any new goals or objectives for your company?
  9. Did you change, in any way, the nature of your job?
  10. Did you ever undertake an assignment or project that wasn’t part of your job just because you were intrigued with the problem?
  11. Did you ever do anything simply to make your own job easier?
  12. What would you say would be the most important qualities of the “ideal candidate” for the position you seek?

Even if you are a loyal employee, it never hurts to keep your resume up to date or to keep a running log of your accomplishments. The electric utilities market offers plenty of opportunity. Why not be ready if it knocks?

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A Message from My Dog: Stop and Smell the Roses

Dogs are simple creatures. We can learn a lot from them. One of the most important lessons they can teach us is to stop and smell the roses. Really get your nose in there and savor the scent. Don’t like the smell? Then change it and move on. Don’t just keep pruning and fertilizing and hoping the smell is going to get better.Dog reading paper

Every morning, I take my dog Rudy out for a walk around the neighborhood. It’s a nice neighborhood. Lots of dogs for Rudy to greet along the way. I use the time to think through all my tasks for the day, challenges I’m facing, conversations I’ve had… I often get completely lost in my thoughts and hardly register when Rudy needs to make a pit stop.

Rudy has his favorite spots where he always wants to stop and “smell the roses.” (It’s not always roses, mind you. He’s not particular. And smelling isn’t the only thing he likes to do. Sorry, neighbors!) If you have a dog, I’m sure you are familiar with this routine.

During my walk this morning, it occurred to me… What goes through Rudy’s mind when we’re on these walks? While I’m cycling through my lengthy “to do” list, he seems equally focused on diligently smelling every bush, mailbox, and blade of grass along the way. He’s really taking his time, enjoying the process and the moment.

Conversely, I get so caught up in the minutia of daily life that I forget to stop and smell the roses, to enjoy where I am and what I’ve accomplished. My mind is in a million other places, so I’m not really thinking about the direction I’m going. I’m on autopilot, and I’ve realized that’s not such a good thing.

What about you? Are you walking through your days on autopilot? Cranking through the to-do list, not really thinking about where you’re headed or whether you’re even enjoying the walk? Tis’ the season for reflection and counting blessings, and this year I’m going to take a note from my dog. (Don’t worry, neighbors, your roses are safe.) Before I dive into making plans for 2017, I’m going to take a long walk with Rudy, savor my accomplishments, decide if I like the “smell” and, who knows, maybe head in a new direction.

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Soap Box Time

I like my job. I enjoy talking to people and helping connect great people with great companies that are looking to hire. They say, if you like what you do then work isn’t really that hard. But, I can tell you, just because you like what you do, it doesn’t make it a cakewalk.

When I talk to hiring managers at companies looking for new talent, we start by going over the position—the responsibilities, the location, etc., then the qualifications—the must haves, the “nice to haves”… But when it comes to the question of “What does XYZ Company have to offer?” … < crickets >… I understand the job market is still recovering to some degree, but people still care about where they work, particularly the really talented people. These people aren’t typically sitting around with nothing to do, and they’ll have to have a pretty compelling reason to leave their current employer. Even if they are currently “between jobs,” the talented folks I work with know they are valuable assets and want to know they’ll be treated as such by any new employer.

The same is true of my conversations with talent. We talk about the type of jobs they are looking for, companies they find interesting, locations, career path, etc., but when it comes to the question of “How do you stand out among your competition?” … < more crickets >.

It’s marketing, right? What makes your brand the one we should choose? There’s almost always a choice—this job or that that job—this candidate or that one—so companies and candidates both need to figure out how to get their name to the top of the list. There are a lot of things companies can offer that go well beyond the standard “competitive benefits package.” What’s the culture like? Are there team-building events? Do you offer career development opportunities? (For more info on what candidates are looking for, click here.)

For those individuals who are looking for a new job, what special skills do you have? In what ways are you an out-of-the-box thinker? What are you doing to make you even more valuable to a potential employer?

As a recruiter, I specialize in making connections between powerful talent and the hiring managers at power companies, and as I said, I really like to do this. What I like even more is when these connections result in a talented individual filling a vital role at a great company that recognizes and rewards the contribution of that individual. Happy hiring manager + happy new employee = happy me!

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Getting the Most from a Recruiting Firm

As with any successful relationship, working with a recruiter will be more productive when each party communicates well and understands how the other party works. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your relationship with a recruiting firm.

When to Call a Recruiter

You will typically call a recruiter when:

  1. You have a tremendous urgency to fill a position. Recruiters are often paid to circumvent the time factor.
  1. You have a difficult position to fill. You have run ads, offered referral bonuses to employees, checked with competitors, consulted with colleagues and extensively interviewed with no success. In this scenario, the recruiter offers a valuable window of opportunity – a “court of last resort.”
  1. You wish to be kept apprised of top-notch talent as it becomes available, regardless of whether there is a current opening.

What to Look for in a Recruiter

When choosing a recruiter, look for someone with a proven track record within your industry. This person will possess qualities such as intelligence, creativity, honesty, persistence, organizational skills and a sense of corporate maturity. He or she should also be a good listener and have an innate ability to “read” people.

What the Recruiter Needs from You

To help ensure a successful search, recruiters need a complete Position Description, including:

  1. Contact Information. This should include the hiring manager’s cell phone number in the event of time-sensitive information or requests. It is also important to return the recruiter’s phone calls in a timely manner.
  2. Duties and Responsibilities. This can be a “day, week or month in the life” of the position.       Include a basic description of what you are looking for. The recruiter may ask you to divide the time into percentages for what is required in terms of administrative, technical and supervisory types of tasks.
  3. Salary and Fee. The last thing a recruiter wants to happen is any misunderstanding at the eleventh hour. That is why recruiters are trained to call in at the highest levels in a company and make sure that someone who can approve the fee does so. It also explains why the fee is cleared in both percentage and dollar amounts.
  4. Hiring Process. Determine who interviews, where the interview takes place and within what time parameters. Provide a “drop-dead date” that you cannot go beyond and then allocate time as needed to ensure the recruiter has enough time to find the ideal candidate.
  5. Recruitment Information. A recruiter will ask who the hiring manager wants for this position—in other words, a prospect’s name. If this is unknown, consider which companies you respect, including your competitors, fro which you might want someone.       This, then, becomes the recruiter’s target “extraction” marketplace. This is where recruiters get the “headhunter” moniker.
  6. Chemistry Matching Information. This might be the most critical piece of information, because all good hires are based on strong chemistry matches. People hire people with whom they develop rapport, i.e., people they like, believe, trust and understand. Provide opportunities for the recruiter to speak to key corporate people and conduct site visits where possible.

How a Recruiter “Sells” Your Opportunity

The recruiter must constantly be prepared to answer the prospect’s often non-verbalized question, “What’s in it for me?” Candidates will change jobs for a combination of factors. The six major reasons can be remembered with the acronym “CLAMPS”:

Challenge of the new position

Location of the position

Advancement potential

Money

People

Stability of the company

It is important to be aware of these motivating factors and take steps to ensure your company offers as many of them as possible. Top talent wants to work for top companies.