Posts tagged ‘Consulting’

Job-Seekers’ Top-10 Lists and New Year’s Resolutions

Every year around December, people in the media seem to feel compelled to wrap up each outgoing year with various Top-10 Lists – usually featuring news events, movies, songs, TV shows, books, etc. Each December since I started Recruiter Musings back in 2009 (our visitor count recently surpassed 1 Million hits and we’re still going strong!) I’ve been posting a couple of my own “Top-10 Lists” for Job-Seekers, as well as a list of suggested New Year’s Resolutions for Job-Seekers. In reviewing those prior lists, I found that they are mostly still very relevant and timely! Oh sure, a lot has changed in the world during the last few years. But in terms of my view of the most annoying and the most helpful things for job-seekers … well, my opinions and suggestions have aged well! I’m still very annoyed by people who don’t return phone calls, and I still think Twitter is a huge waste of time! And I’m still a firm believer in the power of Networking as the number one job-seeking methodology with the best chances for success. Likewise, my suggested New Year’s Resolutions from the last few years are still the same ones I’d advise today’s job-seekers to aspire to for the coming year.

Rather than trying to re-invent the wheel, I simply went back and re-edited the past year’s postings to make sure they were still accurate and up-to-date so that I could simply refer back to them. (By referring back to those newly edited original posts instead of re-posting them as new, the readers’ comments at the bottom of each of those articles have also been preserved.) SO … here are the links:

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 Top 10 Most Annoying Things for Job-Seekers

 Top 10 Most Helpful Things for Job-Seekers

 New Year’s Resolutions for Job-Seekers

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December 1, 2014 at 11:56 am Leave a comment

Let the Jobs Find You: Making Yourself More “Searchable”

If you are an active job-seeking candidate, then I think it’s safe to say that you are in pursuit mode, right? You are probably spending the majority of your time searching for and pursuing target companies, networking contacts and decision-makers within those companies, HR people, recruiters and any job opportunities you hear about that match your background and experience. All in all, these can be very time consuming and often frustrating activities. Wouldn’t it be great if the reverse were true: if jobs would find you, instead of the other way around? Wouldn’t you like to be the one who was being pursued instead of you always trying to chase others down? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if hiring managers from companies, HR people and recruiters would search for and then contact you about jobs they thought you matched???

First of all, we need to start with the assumption that you possess all the necessary skills and experiences that truly match a particular job’s requirements. If that is true (and that’s a huge assumption) then connecting you as a candidate with a specific job opportunity is the name of this game! In my world as a recruiter, there are basically two types of candidates that are considered targets for us to pursue: Passive and Active. The difference between these two types of candidates is fairly easy to describe:

Passive Candidates are people who are currently working and not really looking for a new job at all. However (and this is a key point) they might be open to new opportunities, depending on how they are approached. Companies with jobs to fill rarely solicit passive candidates directly. Instead, they will engage Executive Search Firms and recruiters who specialize in placing people in permanent, full-time positions and who usually target passive candidates on behalf of those client companies. Passive candidates are highly sought after by so-called “Head-Hunters,” whose goal it is to get someone to leave one job and go to another. [Read “The Real Truth About Working with Recruiters” for more on how “Head Hunters” differ from other types of recruiters.] For a variety of reasons (not all of which are logical) candidates who are currently working are perceived in a better light than unemployed job-seekers by most potential new employers. This is especially true if someone is working for a client company’s competitor!

Recruiting passive candidates is not an easy process … but can actually be a lot of fun and quite a challenge for many recruiters. It involves a lot of networking, cold-calling and old fashioned sleuthing. It boils down to pure consultative sales techniques. Once a passive candidate is identified and contacted, the recruiter has to establish trust and rapport with that person, find out what their career goals and desires are, and then convince them to consider interviewing for a job with their client — something they were not looking for, or really even thinking about before that initial call. There needs to be a compelling story to be told by that recruiter which explains why moving from company A to company B would be in that candidate’s best interest. That usually comes down to one of three things: higher compensation, opportunities for career growth/advancement, or a better company culture — or some combination of all three.

Active Candidates on the other hand, are people who are actively looking for jobs. These are candidates who are either “in transition” (i.e. not currently working full-time) or are actually employed somewhere but unhappy and seriously looking to make a change from their current job. Companies with temporary or permanent jobs to fill, as well as staffing firms and recruiters who specialize in contract-consulting jobs tend to target active candidates since they are generally available immediately. Unlike passive candidates, active candidates typically post their résumés on job boards and respond to job postings. For recruiters, active candidates are not as difficult to find as passive candidates — or at least they shouldn’t be! If you are an active job-seeker, it is obviously in your best interest to maximize your online visibility as well as your “searchability” in order to be “found” by recruiters and HR people at companies searching for candidates with specific matching skill sets.

LinkedIn Frustrations
It’s no secret that LinkedIn has now eclipsed all the standard job boards as the number one go-to place for recruiters to find candidates. LinkedIn has radically changed the way potential employers and recruiters find candidates, and companies search for and uncover details about potential employees. Many companies are now actually dropping their Monster and CareerBuilder accounts and relying on LinkedIn as their main source for talent acquisition. Creating an effective online profile on LinkedIn is one of the most important things a job-seeker can do right now. From a recruiter’s point of view, one of the most frustrating aspects of LinkedIn is that it is not always easy to figure out if a person is an active job-seeker or not. Many people portray themselves on LinkedIn as working full-time, when they may actually be active job-seekers who simply don’t want to reveal their true status. They might think (as per the reasoning explained above for passive candidates) that they will appear more desirable if they are not unemployed. The trouble with that reasoning is that if I, as a recruiter, am looking for active candidates — I might not contact someone who appears to be working full-time! Another LinkedIn frustration is that even active job-seekers who say they are looking for new opportunities usually fail to provide any direct way to contact them (i.e. an email address or a phone number.) If you are not a first-degree connection, the limitations of LinkedIn’s messaging system will be a big road-block to anyone trying to contact you with a job opportunity.

Making Yourself More “Searchable”
If you are an Active Job-Seeking Candidate with marketable skills and experiences, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of being seen and pursued by those jobs instead of you being the one doing all the chasing. Following are some tips on how to maximize your chances of being “found” by either a company or a recruiter:

  • Keywords
    Keyword searches are usually the first method used to find résumés and LinkedIn profiles with specific skills that match job descriptions. If the right words or phrases are not present in your résumé or profile, you simply won’t come up in a search done by a recruiter or an HR person. You should make sure that your résumé uses the language and commonly used buzzwords or phrases that appear in the typical job descriptions within your industry niche. Study those job descriptions and copy those buzzwords and phrases into your résumé and profile. Also look up other people who do what you do, and see what keywords appear in their profiles for more ideas. Try using a free keyword search tool like “WordStream”, or any number of other keyword generating tools that you can easily find online. When someone searches for keyword matches on LinkedIn, the results are ordered first by how closely connected you are to them, and then by how often those keywords appear in your profile. Test your own profile’s effectiveness by using LinkedIn’s Advanced Search function: pretend that you are a recruiter and search for people who do what you do in your own geographical area. Try copying and pasting some key phrases from a job description you think fits your background into the keyword search field, or a job title you are seeking into the title search field. Does your profile come up anywhere near the top of the search results? If not, look at who does and try to figure out why: what do their profiles have that yours doesn’t? What keywords do they have that you don’t — and how frequently do those keywords appear? Now add those things to your own profile (if they truly apply to you) and try the search again!
  • Frequently Refresh your Online Résumés
    In addition to LinkedIn, you should also have your keyword-optimized résumé posted on all the major job boards (Monster, CareerBuilder, etc.) Companies, Staffing Firms and recruiters pay lots of money to subscribe to and be able to search in those job-board résumé banks. Did you know that when someone searches the job board’s résumé banks, the results are often displayed in the order of who is the most recently updated? Anyone who has ever done a basic Google search already knows how that process works … you click through the results on the first two or three pages, and most people rarely go any further. Does anyone actually look to see what’s been found on the hundreds of pages that follow those first few? If your résumé doesn’t appear on those first few pages of a keyword search, your chances of being found drop off dramatically. How can you fix that? Easy: edit and then re-post/refresh your résumé posts at least once or twice a week. Change something/anything on your résumé or profile to refresh/re-post it online. It can be something as small as one word! Refreshing/Re-Posting it will bring it back closer to the top of the search results.
  • If You Are an Active Candidate, SAY SO!
    Make sure you clearly declare the fact that you are seeking new opportunities in such a way that it is crystal clear to anyone who views your résumé or LinkedIn profile online. Put it in your headline. Put it in the Summary section. List it in your professional goals. Use phrases like: “Seeking New Opportunities” or “Available for Projects.” (Recruiters actually use the words “Seeking” and “Available” in their keyword searches for active candidates!)
  • Add Contact Information to Your LinkedIn Profile!
    As explained above, failing to include basic contact information (email address or phone number) somewhere in your LinkedIn Profile will make it much more difficult for anyone who finds you to contact you … unless you are already a first degree connection. Relying on LinkedIn’s internal communication tool is much too limiting. Add your contact information in such a way that anyone who views your public profile can see it and email or call you.
  • Include a Photo on Your LinkedIn Profile
    Speaking strictly from personal experience as a recruiter, I am much more inclined to reach out to people on LinkedIn who have photos than those who do not. I always prefer LinkedIn profiles with photos, as long as they look professional and not goofy. I tend to spend more time reviewing the photo profiles … they seem more honest and inviting. Plus, it helps me remember people I’ve met, puts names and faces together, and makes me feel I am more connected to people. Profiles without photos seem more generic, incomplete and anonymous. I always suspect that they are hiding something!

The goal of all of these steps is quite simple: make it easier for recruiters and potential employers to find and then contact you. Instead of you doing all the chasing, you want to make yourself more “Searchable” which will increase the odds that the perfect job will find you!

January 10, 2014 at 11:50 am 2 comments

Contract / Consulting Jobs Explained … Available in Three Different Flavors

In today’s ultra-challenging job market, there are many opportunities out there for so-called “contract” or “consulting” jobs. Historically in the staffing business, it’s a well known pattern that when the economy is down, companies tend to rely more on contract resources to get work done rather than hiring permanent employees. When the economy is up, the reverse is true and permanent jobs tend to outweigh contract opportunities. It’s a very cyclical and predictable shift in how companies approach hiring.

I think it’s safe to say that most job-seekers — especially those who recently lost their permanent positions as a result of the economic downturn over the last few years — are hoping to find another full-time, permanent job. They might be reluctant to accept a contract position for fear of being unavailable if a permanent position suddenly presents itself elsewhere. On the other hand, working is better than not working, right? And very often a person will start out as a contract employee and end up being hired by that same company on a permanent basis because they performed so well. Still other job-seekers actually prefer the world of contracting, and only pursue those sorts of temporary positions. Such professional contract/consultants usually have a very specialized skill-set that is in high demand, and can actually make more money contracting than they could as a permanent employee. Those contract/consultants also often move around a lot, accepting contract positions in different locations for varying lengths of time. In other cases, there are many senior-level semi-retired professionals who no longer wish to return to the grind of a permanent position, but are still interested in remaining active in their field by taking on interim contract assignments.

By the way … for those who are collecting unemployment compensation, it’s worth noting here that accepting any type of employment, contract or otherwise, will certainly affect one’s eligibility to continue collecting unemployment benefits. If the amount you earn on a weekly basis is less than your unemployment benefit amount, then your benefits will likely be reduced to reflect the difference. If you earn more than your benefit amount, then your unemployment payments will stop while you are working. If that happens, and then the contract assignment ends (through no fault of your own) then theoretically you can simply resume your unemployment benefit payments, which should be extended past where they might have ended before … you should still get the full amount you were originally allocated. However, in such a case you will most likely have to re-apply to get your benefits re-instated. And here’s my disclaimer — there is no guarantee that your re-application will be approved. For better information about his issue, I would advise you to contact your local Unemployment Office and discuss the particulars of your situation with a representative there. Here’s a website with links to unemployment information in all 50 U.S. states: “Unemployment Information.”

Among many job-seekers, there is a lot of confusion about contract jobs. I’ve gotten many questions about contract positions that indicate how confusing it can be: What exactly is a contract job? How is that different from a “consulting” job? What’s the difference between a “1099” and a “W-2” contract job? Is a contract the same as a “part-time” job? Is “full-time” the same as a “permanent” job? Can a contract job be “full-time?” Can a “permanent” job be “part-time?” Who invented Liquid Soap, and why? (OK, I just threw in that last one to see if you were paying attention.)

SO, let’s start with some basic definitions:

GLOSSARY:
Contract Job: A temporary position with a company. Usually, but not always, has NO benefits included (unless they are available through a 3rd party staffing firm.)
Consulting Job: A fancier name for a contract job. Could be a higher, more senior-level position.
Temp Job: Yet another name for a contract job – usually referring to lower-level administrative positions (secretaries, data entry, bookkeepers, etc.)
Permanent Job: The traditional employee situation with a company. Usually (but not always) includes benefits.
Full-Time Job: 40 hours per week. (“Full-Time” could refer to either a contract or a permanent job.)
Part-Time Job: Less than 40 hours per week. (“Part-Time” could refer to either a contract or a permanent job.)
1099 vs. W-2: A “1099” employee is a self-employed “independent contractor.” Independent contractors bill their clients for their time – usually by using a purchase order – based either on an hourly rate or a flat fee for services rendered. Either way, no deductions are withheld from their payments, and they are responsible for paying all their own taxes (using IRS Form 1099 … hence the name.) On the other hand, a W-2 employee gets paychecks from the company they are employed by, based on the hours they work, at an agreed upon hourly rate. Those paychecks will already have all the standard deductions taken out for them by their employer (federal, state and local taxes, social security, medicare, etc.) Also, 1099 contractors must pay self-employment tax, while W-2 employees do not. In addition, independent contractors are often required by their clients to carry their own liability and other types of insurance.
At-Will Employee: In the United States¹, most “permanent employees” in today’s work world are hired “at will” – a legal term which means that they can quit anytime for any reason (or no reason at all) without giving advanced notice. Of course, the reverse is also true: they can be fired at any time for any reason (or no reason at all) without advanced notice. This really blows the old concept of “job security” eh?! It also tends to blur the line between a contract and so-called “permanent” job.

For the most part, contract jobs are either directly with a client company that has the need, or through a 3rd-party staffing firm that engages with the client company and provides consultants to them as needed. In such a case, the contractor usually becomes an employee of the staffing firm for the duration of the contract assignment. That firm then pays the person an hourly rate for the work they do at their client’s company, and then bills their client for that person’s time — after, of course, adding a significant markup. (Everyone’s got to make a living, right?)

The Pros and Cons of Contract Jobs:
When presented with the prospect of a contract job, it’s fairly easy for job-seekers to evaluate the overall pros and cons of such a position. Of course, each situation is different — but the following things are mostly true for all contract jobs.

Pros:
1) Income. Money coming in is always good, right? Bills get paid!
2) It looks good on a résumé. Contract jobs – even short-term ones – look way better on a résumé than a gap in employment … especially if it’s work within your industry niche.
3) It keeps you current and up-to-date in your field.
4) A contract job gets your foot in the door of a company that could potentially hire you on a permanent basis.

Cons:
1) By definition, it’s a temporary position. When the contract ends (and they almost always do at some point) you will most likely be unemployed again. Future unemployment benefits could possibly be affected.
2) Generally, contract jobs do not include benefits (health insurance, retirement plans, etc.) unless they are available through a 3rd party staffing firm.
3) Contract employees often feel like outsiders at their companies. They don’t have the same feeling of “ownership” of their work that permanent employees usually have, nor do they enjoy the same feeling of camaraderie with their co-workers that permanent employees usually feel.

The 3 Different Flavors of Contract Jobs:
Whether a contractor is a 1099 or a W-2, working directly for a client or through a staffing firm, full-time or part-time … contract assignments generally fall into 3 categories or “flavors.” This is something that often confuses job-seekers (and recruiters!) when they hear about a contracting opportunity. I’ve even heard from some job-seekers that the recruiters they spoke with don’t seem entirely sure which flavor of contract opportunity they are working on. Clarifying which of these 3 flavors someone is looking at is critical in evaluating such an opportunity, and deciding if it’s worth pursing.

1) Limited Duration Contract:
This is when the contract has a pre-defined beginning and end date. The duration could be any length … from a few days to a few weeks or months. I’ve even seen contracts last up to a year or more. The main thing that defines this type of contract is that there is no plan whatsoever to bring the person on board as a permanent employee. It’s either not in the company’s budget, or for whatever reason the company does not want to add headcount to their permanent payroll. When the contract ends, the job is over.

2) Contract with the Intention to Hire:
In this scenario, the company already has an approved “req” (requisition) from their HR department to hire a new permanent employee. However, they want to start the person out as a contractor first – mostly to see how they perform and how they fit in with the company and the personnel. It’s the classic “Try-Buy” situation. They don’t want to pull the trigger and hire someone until they are absolutely sure they have the right person for the job. If it doesn’t work out, it’s a lot less complicated for the company to simply end the contract than it would be to terminate a permanent employee.

3) Contract with the Possibility to Hire:
Here, the person starts out as a limited duration contractor, just like number 1. However, in this case, the company has made it known that they are at least open to the possibility of converting the contractor into a permanent employee. The rub is that they do not actually have an approved “req” (requisition) from their HR department allowing them to hire a new person. This can be the most frustrating situation of all. This scenario suggests that if the person does a great job and proves to be a valuable asset to the company, their boss could then request permission to hire the person. But, there is certainly no guarantee that such a request would be approved … and no actual promise of permanent employment no matter how well the person performs. The decision of whether or not to hire the contractor is often dependent on factors totally out of that person’s control.

Those last two flavors are often confused with each other, and many times are both referred to by recruiters as “Contract-to-Hire” or “Temp-to-Perm” opportunities. However, as I’ve just explained, they are quite different from each other in a very fundamental way. It’s up to each job-seeker to dig in and ask the right questions when evaluating these opportunities. The most obvious question should be: “Does the company already have an approved req to go ahead and hire someone on a permanent basis if this contract works out?” If the recruiter can’t answer that question clearly, tell them to go back to their client and find out! I’m certainly not saying that you should turn down any of the 3 flavors of contract jobs defined here. However, knowing what you are getting into, and managing your own expectations is key.

¹ As many astute readers have pointed out, employment laws, the “at-will” status and requirements for giving notice may vary outside of the United States.

January 10, 2011 at 12:01 am 186 comments


Michael Spiro

About the Author:

Michael Spiro has been a 3rd-Party Recruiter and Account Executive for nearly 20 years. He is currently the Director of Recruiting / NE Ohio Region for Experis Finance, a dedicated business unit of ManpowerGroup. Other recent positions include President of Midas Recruiting, a boutique head-hunting firm, Director of Talent at Patina Solutions, and Executive Recruiting positions with two of the largest search firms in North America. Before his career in the staffing industry, Michael was a manager in a large non-profit social-services organization. And in a former life, Michael was active in the entertainment industry, with extensive road-warrior experience as a touring performer (singer-songwriter / guitarist / comedian) and as a recording artist, producer and booking agent.  [More...]

Index (by Topic):

Résumés & Cover Letters:
 The "T" Cover Letter - The
         Only Type Worth Sending

 The Brutal Truth on How
         Résumés Get Eliminated

 Explaining Short Job Stints
         and Employment Gaps

 The Résumé Test &
         Checklist: Does Yours
         Pass?

 Beating the Résumé-
         Elimination Game: Where
         Do Recruiters' Eyes Go?

 The Truth About Lying on
         Résumés

 "Why Did You Leave Your
         Last Job?"

Networking:
 How to Network: A
         Step-by-Step Guide for
         Job Searching

 Looking for Networking in
         All the Wrong Places

 Targeted Networking: How
         to Effectively Reach Out

 The Art of Giving: the Key to
         Effective Networking

Interviewing:
 Face-to-Face Interviews:
         Secrets, Tricks and Tips

 Phone Interviews: Secrets,
         Tricks and Tips

 Skype Interview Tips ...
         Welcome to the Future!

 Nuggets: A Secret
         Interviewing Technique

 Answering the Dreaded
         Salary Question

 20 Surefire Ways to Blow
         an Interview

 "So, Do You Have Any
         Questions?" Nailing the
         Interview Closer

 Cool InfoGraphic: "What
         You Wish You'd Known
         Before Your Job
         Interview"

Age Discrimination:
 Age Discrimination: Secret
         Conversations Revealed

 Age Discrimination:
         Exposing Inconvenient
         Truths

 Are You "Overqualified?"
         Handling the Age Issue

 Baby Boomers to the
         Rescue! An Idea Whose
         Time Has Come ...

 Overcoming Job-Search
         Obstacles and
         Redefining Your Career
         After 50

 Advice for Recent Grads
         and Career-Changers

Switching Jobs:
 The Proper Way to
         Quit a Job

 Counteroffers: Just Say No!

General Job-Seeking Info:
 The Real Truth About
         Working with Recruiters

 Contract/Consulting Jobs
         Explained ... Available in
         3 Different Flavors

►  What Recruiters Say
         vs. What Job-Seekers
         Hear

►  The Dirty Truth About
         Misleading Unemployment
         Statistics

►  Let the Jobs Find You:
         Making Yourself More
         "Searchable"

 "Help ... I Need a Job!" A
         9-Step Guide for Newly
         Minted Job-Seekers

 Avoiding the "Black Hole
         of HR"

 Is Your Elevator Pitch
         Taking You UP
         or DOWN?

 Time Management: Recipe          for a Well-Balanced Job          Search
 Getting Un-Stuck from your
         Rut!

 The Double-Whammy of
         Rejection and Isolation

 "Unemployed Need Not
         Apply" - Working Around
         This Scary Message

 Using Social Media to
         Enhance Job-Searching

 Warning: That Rant You
         Posted Just Went Viral!

 The Golden Rule for
         Business: Never Burn
         Bridges

 The Power of a Positive
         Attitude

 Why Job Hunting is a
         Consultative Sales
         Position

 Top 10 Most Helpful Things
         for Job Seekers

 Top 10 Most Annoying
         Things for Job Seekers

 New Year's Resolutions for
         Unemployed Job-
         Seekers

Job-Seeking Humor:
 Comic Relief: Volume 1
 Comic Relief: Volume 2
 Comic Relief: Volume 3
 Comic Relief: Volume 4
 Comic Relief: Volume 5
 Comic Relief: Volume 6
 "In Transition" and Other
         Awkward Euphemisms

 Candidates Gone Wild:
         Recruiter Horror Stories

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