Finding a Job in Today’s Economy

Quick Tips

1. Be Open and Flexible

  • Many times candidates have decided that they want the next job to be “perfect,” the right move to the right company where they can settle in and experience a feeling of security.   So they make a list of what they will and won’t settle for :  where they will or won’t live, how long or far they want to commute,  job title they will or won’t settle for, what their base salary must be regardless of the full compensation, etc.  Unfortunately Open and Flexible are rarely on the list.  So, they turn down opportunities with good companies that are ‘perfect’ but for something not on their list.
  • Offer up solutions to get yourself hired that show you are capable of not just compromise, but innovative thinking.  With your own suggestions illustrate that you’re flexible and open to new ways of working.

2. Create a Creative Bio

  • Everyone must have a concise and accurate resume.  It’s the cost of entry to any job and there are all kinds of suggestions for making it better, more reflective of your achievements versus your duties, etc.  But you’ve got to know that all candidates who are being considered for the position have a resume comparable to yours.  The challenge is to get your resume in the “Interview” stack and to do that you must distinguish yourself in other ways.
  • Create a persona and personality that is not evident in the standard resume through a well-crafted bio.  This is not a rehash of your resume.  Your bio can be written as a narrative or any style you choose, but use it to brand yourself and create a memorable impression as someone interesting and engaging.

3. Expect Some Help

  • You have likely spent a number of years building contacts and relationships with work associates and with clients. Now is the time to turn these people into your own personal sales force.  If they haven’t looked for a job in the last couple of years, they can expect to at some point.  So, use them today and return the favor down the road.  Meet face-to-face with as many as possible.  Ask for their thoughts on where you should look and specifically ask them to introduce you to individuals they know who might further your networking efforts.  This is not the time to be shy and demure.
  • Build a synergistic network among business associates who are currently IN a job. Ask them to introduce you to someone they know who might further your network of contacts and exploration of possible job opportunities that you haven’ t heard about or that have not yet been posted. This activity of meeting old contacts and getting introduced to new people creates a synergy around your job search, keeps you in touch with the market place and opens doors for interesting new approaches to job opportunities.

 

By: Kathy Leonard, President of Freeman+Leonard

 Kathy Leonard is the co-founder and President of Freeman+Leonard.  Kathy’s background entails brand strategy and advertising, promotional marketing and retail/shopper marketing.  She built her career in advertising with more than 25 years in account service. Formerly, Kathy was a president and member of the executive leadership team of TracyLocke.  She was president of The Integer Group, a retail and promotions agency and was senior account director with international advertising agency DDB.  Kathy holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Oklahoma State University.

Interview Questions for the Candidate

When interviewing, it’s imperative to be prepared not only for what questions may come your way, but also for what questions you’ll be asking in the interview.

Here’s why:

1)It’s a two-way street: You’re interviewing the person/company just as much as they are interviewing you.

2) It sends a red flag to the interviewer if a candidate doesn’t have any additional questions they need answered in order to make an informed decision should the offer be extended. Asking questions shows you’re thinking the position through and trying to understand how you’d fit in and add value to the organization.

For some great thought starters – check out 13 Questions to Ask During Your Next Interview via Mashable.

Importance of Social Media Presence for Job Seekers

Social Media is not just for posting about your recent Latte experience or bad movie selection, it can be the key to your next great career move. Employers and Recruiters are actively using social media to find their ideal candidates.  Having a social media presence makes it that much easier for those that are hiring to find you.

If you are a newbie to the social media world, I would recommend starting with LinkedIn.  It is the largest professional networking site.  Make sure your profile is 100% complete and start adding former colleagues, classmates, etc.  It is especially helpful if those former colleagues can write a recommendation of your work on LinkedIn as it provides great insight for others viewing your profile.  You do not need to add connections that you are not interested in building or maintaining relationships with, but it is best to have at least over 100 connections.  As a Talent Manager, I can tell you that I have received feedback from employers that will not even consider candidates unless they have a healthy amount of connections on LinkedIn.

Twitter is also a great tool for your job search.  Start following the companies that you would like to work for.  Not only can you stay in the loop on what is going on with that company, there is a possibility that they will tweet out their job openings.  Use Twitter to also follow your former colleagues and business associates.  Twitter etiquette is that they will follow you back.  If you are not currently employed, take that opportunity to tweet out what type of job you are looking for to your network.  If you are currently employed, I wouldn’t recommend as it might equal some very awkward conversation with your current employer.

Facebook is of course a personal preference on whether or not you would like to combine your business and personal account.  There are privacy settings to split the information sent to each and I would recommend being conservative on what you are posting to your professional contacts.  This may seem like common sense, but remember your friends can have a bad habit of tagging you in embarrassing photos or share things on your wall that you would not like broadcasted, so be sure to carefully monitor.

Make sure your brand is consistent across LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.  Keep it up-to-date and update often.

By: Kim Cook – Talent Manager at Freeman+Leonard

Kim has over 10 years of experience in the advertising and marketing industry.  During her ad agency life, she held positions including account executive and production manager.  Working in the trenches in the agency world and being a liaison between creative teams and clients prepared Kim for her role as a creative recruiter.   She has been creative recruiter with various companies for the past six years and recently relocated back to Dallas from Chicago. To contact Kim, email kcook@freemanleonard.com.

Six Tips to Help You Hire the Best Marketer for Your Company

Hiring the right marketing executive that will accomplish your business objectives, fit into your culture, and be an overall superstar is easier than you may think.  Right now there is an amazing pool of seasoned marketing professionals eager to continue their careers – the challenge I see all too often comes not with the candidates but with the hiring decision makers.

Here are six tips to help you hire the best marketer for your company:

 1) Define approved position
Defining the position and having approvals for the hire before starting the search eliminates prolonging the interview process unnecessarily that all too often results in the ideal candidate accepting a position elsewhere.

2)   Prioritize key characteristics
The number one mistake most marketing leaders make when hiring new staff is to hire people just like themselves – with similar personalities and strengths. It’s natural to be attracted to people just like yourself, but you don’t necessarily want to hire those folks– you need complimentary skills not a bunch of clones.

Create an extensive list of characteristics (such as creativity, organization, results-oriented, attention to detail, and integrity) and prioritize them from most important to least important. Take the time to truly evaluate what this role (especially if it is a new position) will do and how they will need to contribute. Then ask others in the organization that will have interaction with that role to edit your list.

 3)  Get examples to illustrate those key characteristics

Predictable interview questions guarantee predictable answers. Instead of asking questions, get examples. This will get you insights to the person’s character and relevant experiences.

A good way to find information on someone’s attention to detail may be, “Talk about a time when your attention to detail impacted a marketing campaign in a measurable way.” It always starts with, “Tell me about a time…” or “Talk to me about what happened when….”

4) Look only at behavior, not the “sales pitch”
Ignore the platitudes, the self-advertising statements, and listen only to the behavior the candidate describes in response to your questions. This may be more challenging to decipher in some candidates, after all they ARE marketers! Remember that past behavior equals future behavior. I had a candidate once share what he felt a was great example of his initiative, but along the way his description clearly demonstrated he cared more about personal recognition in a situation where he threw his team, including his direct report, under the bus.

 5) Have at least three people interview each candidate separately
Different interviewers ask similar questions in different ways; plus candidates will respond differently to each interviewer, giving you a wider variety of answers to evaluate. Don’t limit yourself to bringing in people only from teams that will have direct contact with this new marketer.  A great way to decipher the candidate’s self-proclaimed attention to detail is to have finance interview them – no one knows details better than finance!

Before the process starts, have a group meeting with team members to explain which traits you’re looking for, and assign each interviewer additional specific questions and drill-down points of their own.  Nothing works worse (and looks horrible to the candidate who is interviewing you just as much as you are interviewing her) than a bunch of people who’ve obviously not communicated, ask nothing but the same bland questions, and barely skimmed the resume in front of them.

6) Compare notes
Get together in a room with the other interviewers to discuss each candidate. Compare answers to every question. It sounds trivial but if a candidate’s story changes from interview to interview you have someone who might have an integrity issue.  Remember it is always better to pass on a hire than make a bad hire.   Not only the cost of bringing on a new person that won’t last, but a bad hire is culturally damaging the organization.

How to Prep for an Interview

To all job seekers, passive or active: RESEARCH. That is the key and the first thing you should do to prepare yourself for an interview. It’s even best to research the company before sending in your resume. You may be wasting the your time and the company’s by blasting off your CV to all open jobs, then finding out it’s not even close to what you’re looking for. Titles on job boards can be misleading. Here at Freeman+Leonard, we try to really nail down what every person is looking for, not just send them every open job available. Doing that creates lack of personal interaction. Sending email blasts to 100-200 people per open order creates not only slow responsiveness to all interested talent, some would question if we even listened to the types of jobs they were specifically interested in. As recruiters, it’s our job to get to know each individual for who they are, so when prepping for an interview, through us or on your own, we can give you the best possible advice based on questions you can ask in relation to what YOU are seeking.

The dress will be dependent on the company. It’s always best to overdress rather than under-dress. As far as jewelry goes, keep it simple, but still keep it you. For example, if you wear a nose ring and that is something you don’t want to change, be yourself and don’t take it out. Prepare not to be upset if you’re not chosen maybe because of that reason. Don’t change your inner self, but also know what you are seeking in a job, and what lengths you’ll go to to secure the right opportunity.

Listen. Look at how the hiring manager is interacting with you and how even their body language is. It’s best to mimic or somewhat mirror the way they are communicating. What do you see? More relaxed? Rigid? Formal? More conversational?

Take note of things around the office. If you see a picture of kids, mention your family at the end of the interview if it feels appropriate. Lover of sports? Comment on their autographed baseball on their desk. There are plenty of ways to show a little of your interests or hobbies outside of a formal environment.

Come prepared with a list of questions about the company. Also throw out information during the interview showing you’ve done your research. Facts, statistics about the company, articles you’ve read online, recent accomplishments…these all impress hiring managers and show you’ve gone above and beyond and are really interested in learning what this place is about.

Always follow up with a hand written note. If time is of the essence and you know a decision will be made soon, send a thank you email followed up by a hand written note.

By: Rachel Parker – Recruiting Manager at Freeman+Leonard

Rachel Parker is a top-notch recruiter skilled in finding top-tier talent.  She has a record of finding individuals uniquely qualified for some of the most difficult positions clients have asked her to fill.  Her high energy and deep understanding of the talent and the roles they play in a marketing communications organization make her the most requested recruiting partner in the company.  Rachel has a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University. To contact Rachel, email rparker@freemanleonard.com.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Resume Writing

Everyone needs one, but few like writing one.  Having a resume that is all encompassing of your skills, yet concise is integral in making your resume stand out.  Face it, whether you like it or not, a resume is the first thing that sells you to the employer.  The resume IS the first impression.  Your resume must be impressive in order for you to get your foot in the door.

Here are a few tips on what to do and also what not to do when writing your resume:

Do
Spell, grammar and format check.  Everyone has heard of spell and grammar check, but you also need to be on the lookout for consistency in formatting your resume.  Don’t trust the computer to catch every mistake.  Proofread multiple times.
Use action words.  Action words are impactful and they bring more personality to the resume.  You only have a few precious seconds to make a good impression, so use as many action words as possible to grab the reader’s attention.
Ask for help.  Have close friends and family who you value their professional opinion to review your resume.  Having a second set of eyes on a resume is invaluable because people read and interpret things differently.  Keep an open mind on their feedback to you and learn to take constructive criticism.
Quantify accomplishments.  Stating that you did well on a project or increased sales doesn’t make that big of an impact until you have numbers to back that statement up.
Sell your skills.  List out skills such as computer software and programs that you’re familiar with.  Some employers look for previous experience with a certain program and having this on your resume will make you stand out.

Don’t

… lie. No ifs about it.  Just don’t do it.  You never want to mis-represent yourself.
… be wordy.  Keep it clear and concise, yet telling the employer the key information about your background and experience.  Bullets are your friend and refrain from writing paragraphs.
… make your resume too busy.  Keep your resume professional and clean of clutter.  For creative positions, you do have leniency in design, but still keep the resume simple.  No funky fonts or colors.
… have 1 version of your resume.  Tailor your resume to the position and company that you’re applying for.  A one size fits all approach does not work, so use buzz words that pertain to the company’s industry so that you seem like the perfect person for the position.
…make the reader guess what your title was or when you worked there.  Information such as the company name, your job title and your dates of employment should be clearly stated.

By: Jeanette McNeely – Talent Coordinator at Freeman+Leonard

Jeanette is a dynamic recruiter who has an enact ability to match the right talent up with the right opportunity.  With 8 solid years of advertising experience, Jeanette can quickly understand the needs of the client and knows exactly what to talent to find in order to not only meet, but exceed expectations.  Her genuine interpersonal skills coupled with her unparalleled professionalism and diligence makes her an invaluable recruiter.  Jeanette has her BBA in Marketing from Texas A&M University. To contact Jeanette, email jmcneely@freemanleonard.com.

Post-Interview Etiquette

I am frequently asked about post-interview etiquette… what is too much, what is too little, what is an appropriate number of follow ups, etc. I have put together a few tips on best practices for after the interview, in the hopes of closing the loop on what can sometimes feel like a long, drawn out process.

1)    Before you even leave the interview, genuinely express your interest and ask about next steps. This will give you the information you need to develop your follow up approach, and make your efforts less of a guessing game. Also, jot down whom you met with, or better yet get business cards if possible. If all else fails, utilize LinkedIn as a resource for the correct spelling of the names of the interviewees.

2)    Give some thought to how it went. Were you able to quickly establish a rapport with the interviewees? Do you feel like your responses were in line with their needs? Overall, was it a good interview that gave you a strong advantage over other candidates?

3)    Send a thoughtful thank you note right away. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t do this, so by doing so you’ll really stand out! Email is fast, but nothing beats a good old fashioned hand written card. If time is of the essence, of course, email is perfectly suitable. Thank each interviewee for taking time out of their day to meet with you, even if it’s a phone interview. Some things to include in your thank you note are:

  • Reiterate your interest in the role
  • Summarize why you’re a great fit, touch on relevant qualifications
  • Express your appreciation of being considered
  • Anything that you forgot to say in the interview, but wish you had said
  • Perhaps mention an improvement you can make based on your experience

And don’t forget to proofread! An error could be detrimental to your chances.

4)    Depending on the role, following up is key as it’s a way of showing you’re really interested in the position. However, be considerate that hiring for this role is only one aspect of the hiring manager’s job. Unfortunately, you may not hear back from them for a number of reasons, but you don’t want to become a bother. My suggestion is one follow up via email after two weeks if you haven’t heard anything. Remind them you’re still interested, and reiterate how your expertise pertains to this role.

Navigating the interview process can be tricky, and everyone is different, so I hope these tips are helpful in developing the right approach. And don’t forget, even if you feel you knocked their socks off in the interview; do not discontinue your search until you walk in the door on your first day of employment!

Lying on Resumes

Post written by Valerie Freeman, CEO of Freeman+Leonard

Last week a reporter from the CW33 channel did a story about “lying on resumes”.  She interviewed a dentist who fired about 30 people who had good resumes but could not do the work.  Then she interviewed me about the prevalence of resume fraud and fudge and what employers can do about it.  So here’s my take on the issue:

I’ve heard statistics that throw out 40% as the percent of resumes that contain fabrications or exaggerations.  In my experience, I’d say that figure is probably true.  It’s more difficult these days to lie about degrees, certifications, felonies and misdemeanors, credit history, driving record, salary,  etc. because those items are more easily checked through background screens and other supporting documents.    What is more difficult is employment history, real reasons for leaving a job  and skills/knowledge  proficiencies.  A job hopper may choose to leave out some of their very short-term jobs; a bilingual person may not have enough proficiency in speaking a particular language, a social media expert may not be an expert at all.

Job seekers are getting wise to applicant screening systems which are looking for key words to screen out the mass of resumes submitted.  So job seekers are responding by trying to fit as many key words and phrases into their resumes to fit these very tight job descriptions that companies are now writing.  In the past few years, job seekers who are desperate for interviews, will wordsmith their resumes to try to fit into whatever job description possible.  They may have some of the skills and background required, but not all; therefore, they fudge on their resume to make it look like they have the whole package.

Companies should always perform due diligence on prospective employees – background screen for credentials and criminal activity, driving record, credit history.  If salary history is important, ask for a W-2.  Drug tests are increasingly becoming part of the hiring process.  Testing is the best means for discovering whether one can actually perform a job – and this includes having experts or people doing the job screen for proficiencies.  If a company has only one Network Administrator and no one else in the company has that skill, then find an expert and pay them to screen the candidate.  At Freeman+Leonard, we have a whole list of language proficiency experts that we use to vet candidates.  Check references and make your candidate give you the names and phone numbers of previous bosses so that they can be called.  The internet can sometimes find useful information about the candidate.  Your own network can provide useful connections to people who may have worked with this candidate.  It’s a smaller world out there than you can imagine.

As for job seekers, be as truthful as possible while making yourself look as good as possible.  We all know that a resume is supposed to make you look your best and resume preparers seek to help you stand out; but lies are  unacceptable.  When discovered, it calls into question everything else in your background — trust is destroyed and can’t be replaced.

Clip from CW33 news cast.

The Dangers of Social Media

Using Social Media Responsibly

By: Sam Crume, Summer Intern at Freeman+Leonard. Sam is a Sophomore Business Major at Fordham University in New York and is from Dallas, TX.

Imagine if someone could read minds. Think about the consequences of your peers hearing your inner monologue. What if our deepest thoughts were public information? Maybe you’re someone who has to bite your tongue every time you see a particular co-worker or your boss. Maybe you are a college student looking for a job and a certain professor makes you squirm.  Maybe you had a rough night that you don’t want anyone to know about. Do you really want this information getting back to people you know? We live in a world of instant access to an infinite amount of information; however, your personal information doesn’t have to be among the masses of the internet. You don’t have to post inappropriate pictures or write offensive things, there is a choice to be responsible.

It seems today that everyone is using social media. According to Tom Webster of Edison Research, “51% of adults in the United States, ages 12 and up are using Facebook,” and Twitter has between 36 and 56 million active users. That’s a lot of people. Consider this; about one out of every two people have access to whatever someone posts on Facebook and about one out of every seven people have access to whatever is tweeted. Future employers, grandparents, parents, friends, and co-workers have access to whatever you do and say.

Think of social media as another way to build the brand that is you. What do you want a potential employer or recruiter to think you stand for? As a college student and intern, I know that every student is worried about finding a job after graduation. As a student, you want to have every edge you can possibly get. That being said, college is a time of change, uncertainty, independence, and yes, often stupidity. Just assume that everyone whom you know and will ever know will read what you post. Your future boss doesn’t want to find out that you made a racial slur over twitter, and Grandma doesn’t need to see the pictures of you and you’re buddies drunk at a party. You never want to forget that you added a colleague or superior and then made a rude remark about them. Think about the consequences of what information you are making public. In regards to finding a job, think of social media as another way to build the brand that is you. What do you want a potential employer or recruiter to think you stand for?

It is important to understand that you’re digital footprint can only grow. Once something is out there, it stays out there.  Imagine whatever you do on the internet as a permanent tattoo. The tattoo might be under your shirt, but with a little effort, it can be seen. You may have posted something years ago, and that picture, tweet, or status update is somewhere out there. Whether you’re applying for an internship over the summer, or running for political office, your words literally will echo for eternity.  Employers are now able to run background checks on individuals through social media sites. There is an entire industry arising to do background checks on social media sites. According to Jennifer Preston of the New York Times, “There is a year-old start-up, known as Social Intelligence, which scrapes the Internet for everything prospective employees may have said or done online in the past seven years.” According to Preston, Social Intelligence assembles a profile of everything you’ve done that meets the criteria of “racist remarks; references to drugs; sexually explicit photos, text messages or videos; flagrant displays of weapons or bombs and clearly identifiable violent activity.” You can’t clean it up. We must simply be responsible.

Social media sites can be an extremely useful tool when it comes to job searching. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will get your name out there, and help build networks.

Here are some guidelines that I like to live by when using the internet.

  1. Don’t post a picture or reference any illegal activity.
  2. Don’t post offensive commentary regarding any racial, cultural, or religious community.
  3. Don’t insult people in a position of authority. An insult to your boss over the internet is still an insult, and cause to be reprimanded or even fired.
  4. Don’t share personal information that you don’t want everyone to know about.
  5. Most importantly, don’t write anything that you wouldn’t be willing to say to anyone. Imagine that your grandparents will read everything you ever post and see every picture.

If you’d like to read more, check out these great sources:

How to Lose a Job via Facebook in 140 Characters or Less

To Blog or Not to Blog – How Blogging and Social Networking Can Impact Your Job Search

Facebook Achieves Majority