interviewing

We're All Replaceable – Are You Ready?

iStockphoto.com |  nytumbleweeds

iStockphoto.com | nytumbleweeds

I once read an opinion piece in the New York Times by Dan Lyons, who worked at a software company where involuntary turnover (i.e., getting fired or laid off) was the norm. The fact that you could be fired on any day, for any reason, was routine.

Rough and tumble corporate cultures are nothing new. And while not every company is a meat grinder, the truth is that deliberately tough work environments do exist, and employers aren't necessarily selling themselves as best-in-class places to work. They demand results. The social contract is simple enough: We give you a paycheck, and you work in the environment we choose to foster.

Websites like Glassdoor will show you reviews of companies' work environments by former and current employees. My guess (and it's just a guess) is that this increased level of transparency has led some companies to embrace the fact that working there isn't going to be a Shangri-La. It's kind of freeing for executive leadership, in a way - if people know you're not too worried about employee engagement, you can focus that energy on simply producing results.

Going back to the opinion piece mentioned at the beginning of this post, the detail that really caught my attention was that Lyons' employer evaluated employees in their appraisals with a metric called VORP - Value Over a Replacement Player. This is a baseball statistic that general managers use to decide when to trade or cut players. In other words, if there's a second baseman on the market who can do the same job for less, or deliver better stats at the same rate of pay, the GM has data that can support making a personnel change at moment’s notice.

This, according to the article, is transparent to employees, they can tell immediately how much the organization values them. What's scary about this is that Major League Baseball is a truly elite work environment - at any given time, there's only 750 positions available at the highest level. And these players are paid elite money to deal with this uncertainty - and to reward them for the level of performance they are expected to deliver.

The average MLB player knows the odds - there are hundreds of thousands of people competing for his job. And his career averages 5.6 years in length. Longevity isn't necessarily part of the equation.

But the fact that this practice has entered the mainstream should serve as a wake-up call to employees. We are all replaceable. There is always somebody ready to come along and do our job.

How can you prepare?

  • Be self-aware. Are your skills up to date? How about your soft skills, do you get along well with others? Your employer and coworkers are very aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and you should be, too. If you realize you're lacking in a certain area, work on developing your skill set. It's worth it.

  • Know where you stand. Have regular touch-bases with your manager. Engage in open dialogue about your performance and expectations. Make sure you're both aligned, and you know what is believed to be a personal strength or development area.

  • Keep your resume and your LinkedIn profile current. Change may come faster than you anticipate, and not necessarily on your terms. You need to be ready in case opportunity knocks.

  • Always be networking. The worst time to start building up your connections is when you need a job. Have your network in place and give it some TLC. Pay it forward - help people in your network when you're in a position to do so, so that others have a reason to give you a solid. Be nice to people – it pays dividends.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

How Much Does Personality Matter In The Hiring Process?

iStockphoto.com |  bonezboyz

iStockphoto.com | bonezboyz

How much does personality matter in the hiring process?

It’s often less a matter of personality, and more a matter of behaviors that impact the hiring equation.

In other words, companies will often have a variety of personalities working under their roof, but you will generally see consistent threads in their behaviors and competencies. For example, depending on the job function, you might find employers value demonstrated behaviors such as:

  • Action Orientation – Motivation to get stuff done

  • Business Acumen – Good sense of strategy and the industry

  • Creativity – Ability look at (and solve) problems a different way

  • Organizational Agility – Knowledgeable about how companies work, and how to successfully maneuver them

And so on. Hiring managers may or may not have terminology to put on this type of assessment, but this is generally what they’re looking for.

That said, the candidate’s personality does play a factor. Your manager will spend more waking hours with you than they will with their family in a given week. Therefore, if you’re charismatic, personable, and easy to get along with, you may have an easier time convincing an employer to hire you.

Conversely, if you demonstrate an inability to connect in a positive way with the team might not be offered that same job opportunity after an interview because they may negatively impact team dynamics. In my experience, 90% of job seekers fall somewhere on the spectrum between these two extremes, and in those cases the selection primarily tends to come down to a consideration of the candidate’s technical aptitude and competencies.

That said, some people have badly needed skills and expertise, and personality may not play a factor at all. If the company you’ve applied to is actively looking for a COBOL programmer, facing a deadline to fix some old spaghetti code, and you’re the first qualified candidate they’ve interviewed in months, you’re probably going to get an offer regardless of your interpersonal skills.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

Ways To Kill Time During Interview Breaks

iStockphoto.com |  shironosov

iStockphoto.com | shironosov

 

You're invited to interview for your dream job. On the agenda ithere's a 30-minute time slot labelled "Break."  This means that they couldn't find somebody to fill that period of time, and they need to park you in a conference room or the lobby for a while.

You should plan for downtime, and how to use it. Keep in mind that even if you're not in an interview, the company will still be watching how you respond. Here are some suggestions to  occupy your time:

  • Prior to the interview, print the job description, the agenda, relevant articles about the company, and the LinkedIn profiles of your interviewers. Bring them. Read them. Should someone pass by, they'll see you're taking your day seriously.
     
  • Bring (an appropriate) magazine to read. People will consider what you're reading - if you're interviewing for a job as a fashion buyer, flipping through Vogue won't hurt your case.
     
  • Review your employment application for accuracy. Any mistakes can cause problems during a background check.
     
  • Take inventory of the business cards you received during your interviews. When you're getting ready to send thank you notes, you'll need names and addresses and you can ask the Corporate Recruiter at the end of the day for the information of anyone you may have missed.
     
  • Ask for a nature break. Gotta go? This is the time. Return promptly in case the next interviewer is ready.


A few other things to consider:

  • Resist the urge to check your phone. It's tempting – you really want to know what's going on at work while you're out, but don't do it. Your phone should be off from the moment you arrive at the interview. What if you forget to turn it off and it rings during an interview? Even worse, what if you jump on a call during your break, the next interviewer arrives, and you can't get off the phone?
     
  • Don't get too casual. Keep a professional posture. Don't assume nobody is watching - the interviewers will be.
     
  • Never assume there will be something to occupy you where you wait. Be prepared with something to read. Staring into space because you've got nothing to look at makes you look like you're on a bad acid trip.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website,