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.

Motivation For The Task At Hand

Here we are. You’re reading this blog post instead of working on another more important task at hand. Yes, I am talking to YOU. Do you find yourself frequently staring at tropical desktop wallpapers and counting down the days until your summer vacation? Don’t get discouraged by that endless to-do-list in front of you. Whatever the task is, whether it’s a project at work, achieving a goal, or the strenuous task of searching for a job – you can easily stay motivated with these simple tips:

  • Set a Goal. Make a list or develop a plan. Don’t begin a task or project without a list or timeline in place to keep yourself on target. “If you fail to plan…you plan to fail.”
  • Set a Timer. Now that you have a goal and a plan. It helps to set a deadline and time yourself. Break a large task into smaller ones and set a time-frame in which you will complete each one.
  • Reward Yourself. Treat yourself with a break or maybe a latte. Make it fun and rewarding. If you know it will be a hard day, stop by Starbucks on your way to work or schedule a massage.
  • Eliminate Distraction. We live in a world filled with technology and exciting new applications. Put away the phone, turn off email alerts, and sign out of Facebook.
  • Organize Your Space. De-clutter your desk. Before you start, take the time to clean your workspace. Put away lose papers and throw away trash. It’s hard to focus on project # 1 if project # 2’s instructions are also lying there next to you.
  • Take a Break or Walk Around. Refresh your mind and take a break from what you’re working on. It helps to take a moment to regroup your thoughts. So take 10-15 minutes to do something else – check your email, call a friend, or take a short walk outside or around the office.
  • Get Away. Too distracted or need a change of scenery? Sometimes you might need to pick up the computer and move. Go outside, move to a different desk or office, or maybe working from home would be the best option.
  • Be Healthy. Eat healthy, exercise, and sleep. Your body is a machine, and in order to have it run correctly and efficiently, you need to take care of it.
  • Think Positive. You can easily discourage yourself from any task with negative thoughts of “This sucks”, “I hate this”, “I just can’t”, “It’s so boring.” Try changing your perception and focus on the positive, even if the only positive is that you get to go home when the work is done.
  • Ask for Help. If you can’t do it alone, it’s OK to ask if someone else would assist you. Delegate or split the work with a coworker or a friend.
  • Just Do It. Remember, it’s just a task and a task is a job. Someone has to do it! Once this one is finished, another task is not far behind…

These are only suggestions and may not apply to every task. Remember to evaluate what it is you are doing and always think positive! Don’t push yourself too hard, or all at once. Take one step at a time. Every step you take is a step closer to your goal and to completing the task.

By: Sondra Heffernan – Marketing Assistant at Freeman+Leonard

Sondra is a corporate marketing professional with experience in social media strategy, sales support, and project management. She joined Freeman+Leonard from Rediform, Inc., where she managed B2B promotional marketing efforts, assisted in product development, and supported the sales teams on accounts such as Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples and Amazon. Sondra has a BBA with an emphasis in Marketing from Texas A&M University. To contact Sondra, email sheffernan@freemanleonard.com.

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!

5 Networking Tips for 2012

2012 is here and you have found “attend more networking functions” on your list of New Year’s Resolutions.  Since this seems a bit easier than losing 20 pounds, you decide to check this one off of the list first.  Here are a few tips…

  1. Keep in mind that everyone has that “7th grade dance” feeling when they first arrive.  Not quite sure where to stand, who to talk to, etc.  Don’t be nervous and strike up a conversation. Keep in mind most people are there to make new contacts and build mutually beneficial relationships and not there to spend 2 hours talking to their co-worker Becky in Marketing.
  2. If you are currently employed, be able to clearly explain what your company does and what differentiates you from your competitors.  If you are attending a networking event in search of job referrals, be able to articulate what type of job you are looking for and be specific about your skill set. Remember, if your fellow networker can’t understand what you are talking about, then it will be hard for them to refer you.
  3. Ask lots of open ended questions and you won’t have to worry about awkward pauses.  What got you involved in this organization? How did you get started in the XYZ Business?  Do you come here often and what is your sign does not count!
  4. Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty.  This is a book written by Harvey McKay with a great message about networking. It is best to establish your contacts and develop relationships long before you ever need them.
  5. Become a volunteer for a networking organization event.  Being a greeter or helping with registration keeps you busy and also gives you a chance to expand access to new contacts.

Remember, networking is the key to success in any line of business.  Get out there and start connecting!

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.