Effective Communication and Networking with Employers

Image via Money.com

How you network during your career search involves how you show up. This is super important since this will determine how the conversation will go.

When you pick up your phone for a job interview or just to speak with an employer that you scheduled a call to speak with, first impressions are paramount. Why? Because the minute the first impression you give to that person, that’s what they remember you by or as, and that first impression will determine whether you go to the next conversation or whether they want to have a follow up conversation with you.

For instance, you want to introduce yourself and initiate how you found out about the job posting. Express your interest and share with the employer on what you knew about the company. If the company is into serving the community, mention that. You want to be able to give the company a quick snapshot recap of who they were in your eyes and why you want to be a part of that brand.

The most common question that I am sure that you have been asked during an interview was, “Why do you want to work for Company ABC?” Make sure the things you mention are not just your interest but also what you know about them. This includes your response to how the company aligns with what they are doing, what their missions and values are and how you can relate/contribute to them.

You can say something along the lines of, “Company ABC stands for a lot of things that I believe in. I see that you do a lot of things in the community and for the community.” Share relevant experiences that you have done in the past — say like a part-time job to pay off your student loans, internships, etc.
If you have worked for a job that involves youth and if everything Company ABC does in the community is helping the youth, that would be something good to share with them. So when they have a youth from the community saying they want to work for that company because they do that on such a larger scale, they would be excited to hear your motives and what you are driven by. “I want to gain experience”, “I’m a quick learner”, “I am able to multi-task”.

Chances are, the employer will be intrigued by what you have told them and they will want to bring you in for an interview. Therefore, first impressions are paramount when you think about networking. The first minute that you show up, the first way they see you should make a positive impact in that moment. So it’s in that moment where you can make a difference.

Many job seekers often think that networking can be thrown to the side once they land the job. Networking isn’t over once you begin your job. It is crucial to continue building that relationship by following up and staying in touch with your connections. Being ready to experience new things and asking insightful questions to learn about someone are always helpful to keep the conversation going.

What is Effective Communication?

Communication is a process and there’s so many processes we go through. If you break down the word Effective Communication:

Effective is defined as “successful in producing a desired outcome or intended result“.
Communication is defined as “the imparting or exchanging of information or news“.

Now if you bring those two words together, Effective Communication is defined as “verbal speech or other methods of relaying information that get a point across. It is also when you achieve a desired outcome by sharing key information or news. Simply put, it is being able to clearly convey a message to the other person.

So, what makes it effective — what is your desired outcome? And is the desired outcome of the conversation the intended results? That is important when you think about effective communication. We communicate in multiple ways everyday. But how you communicate is very important. Is it the outcome that you want to get it across to the other person or to the audience? And when you achieve that, you can see that you achieved that because you get results or immediate, instant feedback from the person or audience that you are talking to.

An example of an effective communication is when the person you are talking to — listens actively, absorbs your point and they understand it. You also need to listen in a way that gave the full meaning of what’s being said and makes the other person feel heard and understood. It is a two way street — you are sharing, but you are also absorbing, and you are actively listening to the other person on their response.

What Are Some Barriers to Effective Communication?

  • Judging the other person — Sometimes when someone is talking to us, we are already deciding or thinking about the outcome/sizing them up.
  • Not paying attention to the other person you are talking to — This shows that you are not intently listening and this can distract you from conversing with that person and they can see if you are not paying attention.
  • Assuming intent of the other person — You are going to assume the message that the other person is trying to get across to you without listening to the person that is speaking to you.
  • Using technical language — One thing that has always been uncomfortable in effective communication is when people use jargon and words that we are not familiar with. This crosses a block in others not understanding or comprehension what message the person is trying to get across OR what you are trying to get across to the audience.
    • For example, a hiring manager/recruiter can refrain from using any corporate language (from within their organization) when he/she is trying to share about what the company is to the job seeker — who doesn’t know fully anything about that company.
    • Some companies use acronyms like clothing brands to communicate internally that externals might not know, so that is when the full name/phrase/word will need to be elaborated.
    • Don’t use technical language if you don’t know if the other person knows it. You are really just trying to build a relationship with that person.
  • Providing solutions or unwanted advice — Sometimes, you can provide a solution to something and that person did not ask for the advice yet. This can be a quick way to deescalate the conversation and might end up cutting it short. Wait for the open door. Wait for someone to say, “Oh — what did you think about what I just shared with you?” Actively listen to the information that they are sharing and engaging you with. Let them open the door for any questions/opinions that they may have for you.
  • Avoiding the concern of others
  • Not having an open mindset going into the conversation

What Happens in a Conversation When We Communicate Effectively?

  • Nodding your head — showing the other person that you completely understand
  • Builds and fosters a great relationship with others
  • Builds better trust
  • Increases your engagement — People want to ask questions. It becomes more of a conversation rather than just a topic of effective communication.
  • Improves productivity
  • Provides clarity and direction — If it’s communicated clearly between you and the other person, it will be executed exact on what needs to get done. If there is no clarity or direction, this will lead to more questions — as a clear indication that you did not understand, nor did you actively listen in that conversation of the initial communication, or the statement made by the other person was not clear enough.
  • Promotes team building

Effective Communication Skills

  • Active listening
  • Being aware of non-verbal communication
    • As you are communicating, you are paying attention to their body language. If you are communicating and someone is looking down, that’s saying that the person is not engaged with you right now; they’re not with you; they’re not understanding what you are saying. Also, there could be a possibility of that person not being open to what you are sharing.
  • Asking questions
    • When you are communicating effectively, you can also ask questions and the other person can ask questions as well to ensure that engagement is happening two-way.
  • Be clear
  • Clarify & Summarize
  • Be empathetic
    • Especially when it comes to someone else’s opinion
    • Be empathetic as well when you are sharing out information.
      • What are you communicating?
      • Is the information that you are communicating — is it for everyone? Or are you leaving certain people out?
    • Be inclusive in your communication
  • Give feedback and be open to it
    • Feedback is a gift. People will always give you feedback whether you want it or not. Sometimes
  • Be honest
    • Always be authentic and be your true self while you are being your professional self.
      • If you are in an environment where you are in an interview, the way you communicate is super important. There are words that you wouldn’t use in an interview that you would when you are communicating casually with friends/family.
  • Control your emotions

Listening is a skill that not too many people do well on. And it’s because people listen to respond versus listening to understand. If someone is communicating to you and sharing an idea/thought or even introducing themselves, you don’t want to interrupt them. You want to continue listening to them so that they can have their moment of their introduction. When it’s your turn to speak, then it’s your turn to speak.

There is a moment where there is someone on the other side who will say, “Hey do you have any questions for me?” and that’s when you can ask the questions and anything that you need more clarity on. However, when we listen to respond, it doesn’t have the conversation to flow easily. It doesn’t help the conversation. It makes it like a roadblock and a barrier because they are sharing potential opportunities and you are not listening to their perspective. It’s not always your perspective, it’s someone else’s as well.

You need to have an open mindset when you go into any conversation.

5 C’s of Effective Communication

Important for not just in the workplace or job search but also in daily life.

  • Clarity — Be clear
  • Consistency — Be consistent with your communication style. Show up consistently. Don’t give different communication styles. Be clear and stick to the information that you are sharing. Don’t share one information with one group, and then change your complete content on what you are sharing with another person.
    • If you are consistent with your connection, they will have to be consistent with you.
  • Creativity — Be creative in your approach. You will meet different people (networking).
    • Are you creative in the way that you are connecting with this person?
    • Every person requires a different approach. You won’t be able to just say the same thing to different people. You do have to curate that message and tailor it into your person and audience.
      • Knowing your audience is very important when you are communicating to that person or your audience.
  • Content — Make sure the content is relevant to what the other person wants to know. Or make sure it’s content in reference to content. Make sure what you are sharing makes sense.
  • Connections — The connections that you make are super important. Even in that communication when you are connecting with — what is the impression that you are going to leave for that other person

How to Be a Better Communicator

  • Be slow to speak, but quick to listen
  • Practice your speech in front of a mirror
  • List down your affirmations and manifest them
  • Be clear

In a job interview, if the interviewer asks the interviewee — “Tell me about yourself”, that is the moment for you to get your elevator pitch. Your elevator pitch would need to stick to the question and not go off into something else. Practicing would help your elevator pitch be delivered in the right way.

Example: “Hi my name is ______, I work in recruiting services. I applied for this job because I saw all the work that you have been doing behind the scenes for candidates. The candidate experience is super important to your brand. I am very interested in learning how to expand on my knowledge in how the candidate experience shows up from your company’s point of view. I am very excited to be here today to learn more. I am ready and eager to learn.”

Just being able to share that upfront when you have that moment to share who you are.

Have a plan. Go into the conversation with an agenda so that you don’t digress. Stay on top to apply your outcome. Have an agenda on whatever you are going to talk about today. That way, people will have an idea on what you are going to be talking about, that you execute everything that you want to execute, and that you and your attendees walk away knowing the content that both parties discussed about.

Career Networking

Networking is defined as “involves using personal, professional, or academic contacts to assist with a job search. Networking can be a good way to hear about job opportunities or get in at a company you’d like to work with.”

You find out information when you seek information, so it involves you actively reaching out to someone else who has the job that you want or works at the company that you want to work for. It also involves you using some of your personal and professional contacts. There’s people that you will meet everyday that will become a part of your network. As you meet someone, they become a part of your network. That could be from social media, in-person event, phone, LinkedIn, or any kind of online platform.

If you master networking, a cool tip to remember is to start with what you know. You will have a different approach every time to someone that you meet. Knowing the time and place is important. There’s a time to network, there’s a time to say “Good morning, my name is Michelle” and keep it moving.

For example, you are at an event. You are showing up to the event. There is a room of people, you are at the door and you are trying to get inside the event, and someone walks up to you at the door and greets you. If they are trying to network with you at that time, that is not the time to network. You will be blocking the entrance while others are trying to get into the door to the event. That is not the right time nor the right place.

Let’s say you are at a job fair. You walk around the room and you get to meet different employers. That is absolutely the right time to network. Networking with the golden mind of not taking up too much of that recruiter’s/team’s time by knowing when to move on to the next table. State your name, what your interests are, “here’s my resume”, or “I applied online”. Any quick facts that you could share with the HR team and anything that you think would be good for them to know about you, say it at the table. Grab the employer’s business card and gifts if there are any freebies left out on the table, and come back.

The recruiter’s most likely going to say, “If you have time, I am so sorry because the line is so long. I am trying to get to everyone but if you have a minute, come back to the table and let’s talk again.” But it’s all about how you predicate and present yourself to the recruiter because it let’s them know and gives them the impression if they are sparked to have another conversation with you or not.

Benefits of Networking

  • Develop your career
  • Build your personal brand — How do you show up? How you show up is how they will perceive you. When you show up at a networking event, you don’t ask for a job. You ask for information. When you’re at a job fair, that is the time for you to talk about a job. But when you are at a public event, and you are seeing someone in the room that you have always wanted to talk to, don’t ask for a job — ask for information.

    Example: “Hi my name is ____. I’m not sure if you remember who I was from last time. I was the person who did the community event with you … (and so on) I’ve always wanted to know, could you tell me a little bit about what you do, so could you share what it is that you love most about your brand/company? Or a little bit of the work that we did together last week?”
  • Re-evaluate your qualifications — After networking with someone, they may share a nugget about that job and that could leave you with — “Wow I didn’t even think about that.. I would need to re-evaluate the qualifications that I may have left out of my resume because I thought that I would need to leave Volunteering off my resume. But he just told me that he volunteered at 3 city jobs, and that was what helped him get the job.”
  • Support from your community — Having a community — and that is a community of people that you met. That helps you to get more support and more people for you to go to and get advice from.
  • Raise your profile — If you are on LinkedIn, and if you are not — you should sign up. It is the #1 career networking platform. People get to know you because you are adding people, building your connections and it raises your profile to the level of “Wow this person is connected to this person I know.” When people see that you are connected to these people, it helps to raise awareness and they will want to reach out to their connection who knows of that person that they want to get to know more about.
  • Get fresh ideas — Sometimes, when you are networking — you learn new things from somebody else in the conversation and that’s a part of re-evaluating your qualifications.
  • Gain more knowledge
  • Get career advice

Do’s and Don’t’s of Networking

  • Knowing a time and a place — Don’t corner someone at a door or in an inappropriate place where you can’t network and it prevents them from moving.
  • Let them be the person to want to talk to you. Do not force the conversation if the person is not engaged, or if you did not build that initial contact or relationship.
  • Have your information ready. Don’t introduce yourself and blank out when they ask you to tell them about yourself. Be ready. When you network, you need to have your stuff ready. You want to make a good connection. You are exchanging business information — such as a phone number or email. Don’t take it personal if they do not want to give out a phone number. They may not have a phone number. They may just communicate via email.
    • Be empathetic to some of those barriers/things that may be
  • Leverage social media. Such as, getting on LinkedIn. If you are not on that platform, you will need to sign up. Create your profile, have your resume, have a line up of who you are, the interests you have, etc. Get that polished and then start adding to your network.
  • The most important part of networking is TALKING. If you are afraid to talk to someone else because you are shy or introverted, it is highly encouraged that is to get in front of the mirror and practice.
  • Another important part of networking is FOLLOW UP. You meet great people everyday and you never talk to them again. You have to keep the conversation going. Say “Hi, I’m not sure if you remember me. Just checking in to see if there’s any opportunities” and this can be via email. That is to keep the networking going and this gets the person to remember you. You want to have a network that is not going to let you go, and instead keep you in the loop.
    • Even if you don’t get a job with them or you don’t get the outcome that you really wanted, it still shows them that you are a real person and that you want to keep this network/conversation going.
    • Share a success story when you met with someone, because with your story — you can help to empower someone else and they will totally understand you. They will understand some of the things you have faced as a candidate. Maybe it could be applying for a job, or some of the things that you have implemented on your last job so that they’ll get who you are as a person. It’s not always about the professional aspect. It can be the little things — likes/dislikes that your network can relate to about you. That can bring your network closer to you.
  • If you are networking virtually like on Google Meet or Zoom, it is encouraged that you have your camera on because people will get to see you and the conversation becomes more meaningful and interactive. It shows that you are present, engaged and fully paying attention. Make sure your background is not distracting. Connection is through eyes — eye contact. This allows us to learn from each other.
  • If you don’t know how to start a conversation, you can lead it with an ice breaker! This gives the opportunity for people to introduce themselves.
Image via TheMandarin

Picking an Imperfect Job versus a Perfect Job

While the job market is changing overtime, and will continue to change due to the pandemic, people will most likely have to pick up jobs that will lead to disappointment — as a result of the job shortages.

So the question is if you were offered a job that wouldn’t necessary fit what you are looking for, should you take it?

If you are starting your career as a recent college grad or transitioning to a new field but aren’t quite sure on a path, here are some advice that will hopefully point you to a direction:

  • For what is worth, look for what satisfies you. The better you like it, the better you will perform in the field/role. If it feels good, you excel at it and you should do it. You wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes you didn’t like, that didn’t fit or were not fit for purpose.. would you?
    • The perfect job is not about what it is, but rather how it makes you feel and drives you to make things better. That is called your passion. Your passion is something that you enjoy doing everyday, where it doesn’t feel like a job; never phased you or felt like a chore. Instead, you let it motivate and drive you.
  • Check out some online psychometric tests or career personality tests (like a Myers Briggs Personality Test) to work out suitability, style, character, leadership, ideal career, etc.
  • If you like your role, you should also pay attention to the work environment around you. Stay away from negatively charged people, atmospheres where they can be unproductive, infectious and lead down the path to nowhere.
  • In any job/internship/volunteer that you have had, what part of each of them did you enjoy the most? Write that down as a job description somewhere.
    • Imagine a person like yourself doing that job and try to morph one to five of them that may exist into a job that exists and even more or less, take your best qualities and apply for jobs that you know you can excel at. Learn more of their internal work flow. Apply that to your thinking cap. It doesn’t hurt to give it a try.
  • Weigh the pros and cons of any new job. If you find a job that you think will challenge you and the pros outweigh the cons, consider the new job instead. However, you will need to be passionate about what you do, so then it will feel like you’re getting the work done.
  • The most important step is to simply apply. This is often overlooked because job seekers get discouraged when they do not hear back after submitting 100+ applications and that networking is the only avenue to take. However, often these days, people do not apply and are collecting pandemic unemployment assistance — which means they are not even entered into the race to land a new opportunity.
    • Most times, you do not know if a role is actually perfect for you until you have gone through the interview process and have been able to gather more in-depth information about the responsibilities, team, culture and company. But the key is to at least apply. That is step one.
    • A lot of job seekers have not been applying because they are afraid of rejection. Do not be afraid to apply for a job because there is nothing to lose while going through the process. Up until there is an offer on the table, there is no reaction required — it’s all information-gathering until a final decision needs to be made.
    • If you apply for as much opportunities as possible (of course, opportunities that pique your interest), and if you land an interview, that is a bonus. You will still gain valuable skills from going through another interview process. You will learn what to expect and what skills employers are looking for. This is still a win-win.
  • We only really get to know how warm the water is by putting our foot in it. Apart from when it seems so obvious that the job is not right, accepting an “imperfect” job is not always as bad as we always think. How many of us can put our hands on our hearts and say without any doubt for the jobs we really enjoyed, we knew that they would be like that before we accepted them?
    • Any acceptance should be capable of challenging your abilities. That’s needed for the drive we all have.
  • Expectation is the root of disappointment so keeping a realistic perspective is the key to finding the balance in a new job. Maybe not “perfect” but more like “ideal”.
    Now if the actual position, company culture or benefits are wildly misrepresented by a potential employer, then that is a different story.
    Transparency is paramount on both sides to achieve the best outcomes because it is absolutely possible to have a job you love at a company worth your time and your efforts.
    • Live by the “Don’t expect, but settle for just good enough” mindset.
    • This isn’t often spoken about but I am sure a number of us can relate to below:
      • Finding a balance is more important than setting unrealistic expectations of what you expect and want from a job.
      • Sometimes when you say you found the best/ideal job you ever wanted, but things are not the way you expected internally (i.e. employee conflict), you will still end up leaving your so-called “best job”.
      • There is no best job, best boss, best colleagues. But you can always work on the best version of yourself. Do not aim for the job to be the best. Rather, aim for yourself to be the best. This is a more realistic approach, perhaps.
  • As mentioned previously, there is no such thing as the perfect job. Only a multitude of jobs that offer opportunity and possibility.
    • That doesn’t mean one should accept any job. Definitely, one should spend time in self reflection and introspection to try to determine what a good fit may look like: a job that plays to your strengths, skills, character and passion.
    • Once that is determined, make every effort to go about the business of seeking opportunities that provide a good fit.
    • Once you are in that job/position, do your best work and be the best you possibly can be. Create success for yourself.
    • Success brings passion, not passion brings success.
  • Rarely is anything truly “perfect”. It is important to know your “must haves” and what is negotiable, all while keeping in mind your present circumstances.
    After that, you should also consider whether this position could act as a stepping stone to an ultimate goal.
    Ask yourself if what you will learn on this job and the job’s responsibilities will be positive additions to your resume and skill set.
    Finally, you need to trust your feelings when it comes to the “vibe” you get from the company and the people you have met.
    If you have been honest with yourself during this assessment and you decide to take the job, you may find that it ends up to be much more “perfect” than you originally thought.
    • That being said, the keyword is trust your gut. Sometimes, we all jump into something for the fear of not having something “more stable” especially for those working on a contractual basis.
      However, the beauty of contracting is, you are not sucked into the underlying dysfunctional dynamics that may or may not be going on within the company with the Full-Time employees.
      That in and of itself is a liberating feeling. You get a chance to see what the company would be like to work for if you were a permanent employee and the company gets to see if you are a good fit for them in the long-term as well.
      Sometimes, it’s not the perfect job, but there is beauty to it.

Here is an advice from a Certified Career Management Coach:

My advice would be don’t allow perfection to get in the way of progress. Yes, it’s important to think carefully before making a decision, but sometimes over analysis can lead to paralysis.
There is some degree of trepidation when someone accepts a job offer because they don’t know what they are getting into. That’s the reason it’s important to ‘Know your non-negotiables’ as Lindsey Pollak suggests.
Have a baseline of what tradeoffs might be, then use a T-Chart to help you weigh the pros and cons. Make your decision according to where the balance is heavily tilting.

The candidate may also want to consider the following:

> Is this ‘not-so-perfect-job’ coming after an extensive, unproductive job search, dwindling funds and increasing debt?
> Will the job provide an opportunity for growth? Sometimes taking a side-way step can lead to climbing the career ladder.
> Are there new skills I could learn in this role that could benefit me in the long term?
> What’s the worst that could happen if I accept (or don’t accept) it?

Hope those pointers will help those who are sitting on the fence of indecision.

While no job is perfect, we should enjoy the ride and build up our experience to get a next better job which we aim to achieve. Rome isn’t built in just one day. The employee and employer would have to be compatible to make a good team and relationship to build up the business.

While you take your chance and shoot your best shot at whatever life throws at you, you may find the job enjoyable and can find ways to expand to your dream job. Take a job and improve it!

Does Work Experience or Achievements/Accomplishments Matter More?

Image via Freepik

Oftentimes, job seekers like to mention about having years of experience in a specific field or role. Experience is nice, however this doesn’t always prove to employers that you can do the job. You may have the experience, but what about your potential?

According to the PWC survey, 77% of CEOs seek for creativity and innovation in candidates.

You may have over 15 years of experience in Marketing, however you want to support your statement with relevant achievements/accomplishments (at least 2-3). You want to let employers know how you figured something out when nobody could, implemented a new idea or solution for your team or the company that would be relevant to the employer that you are being interviewed for. Of course, relevant and the most recent achievements/accomplishments would be the best impression for employers.

For those who feel like they don’t have any relevant achievements or accomplishments, especially undergraduate students – you may start thinking about your experience, education and even the existing skill sets that you already have. How were you able to contribute to the company that you were trying to help out? Tell your story in a way where it brings out your critical thinking skills, because employers look for that as well.

When you are telling your story to your employer, you want to get into the point but keep it brief and impactful. For example, if you are asked about your greatest achievements – pick something that is as relevant as possible and is relevant for the role.

Example: “My greatest achievement was leading my team and providing support to my boss which processed effectiveness to the workplace. While I was 6 months into my role at my internship, I also had the ability to train an intern who was also hired for the same position that I was hired for. I utilized my skills to teach the intern on what it was like to be an an administrative assistant, from clerical duties to assisting clients with their problems. At the same time, I also collaborated with other departments of the company to centralize the customer database for easy retrieval of information.”

Now jump more into the specifics by discussing about the actions/results you have made!

Example: “To ensure that other departments had easy access and retrieval of information through the customer database, I researched and reviewed the best practices for a more organized electronic filing system. I assessed the top needs of staff for files through means, such as conducting one-on-one interviews with the team for potential adoption. Therefore, I mapped out an organizational strategy and provided a menu of options for my staff to choose from. My research skills helped execute and improve the quality by 80% in overcoming current challenges of the folder organization that our staff was experiencing.”

Wrap it up with closure! End it by saying how you can bring your skills and required experience to the employer.

Example: “Although I loved that role, now I am looking forward to applying my leadership experience coupled with my critical thinking and problem solving skills at your company, and it really excites me.”

Alignment of Core Values and Recommendations on Improving Behavioral Expectations Internally

Image via Nvolvegroup

What are the ideal core values that employers are looking for in candidates? Each employer has different behavioral expectations, however this has to align with what the candidate is looking for as well.

For instance, let’s look at the retail sector. For example, CVS Health vs. Nordstrom.

CVS Health is more than just retail, as it is truly focused on healthcare. CVS Health’s 5 core values are Innovation, Collaboration, Caring, Integrity, Accountability.

You want to work for a company that has and shares the same values that you have – so you want to research and make sure that company’s values match your values and style. Basically, you need to do your homework by thinking deeper on what that means. CVS Health can acquire and adopt new practices if you are looking for innovation.

Nordstrom is highly focused on their core values as well – Customer Obsessed, Owners At Heart, Curious and Ever Changing, Here To Win. If you are applying for a job, they usually list their core values on the bottom of the description.

We strive to know our customers better than anyone else. We listen, anticipate, build trust and move with speed to deliver on their needs.

We treat every interaction as an opportunity to make an impact and deliver excellence.

We approach problems with curiosity and create solutions. We unlock potential to be bold, think big and inspire innovation.

We’re committed to delivering results, both today and tomorrow. We win as a team by supporting and challenging one another to be better every day.

Nordstrom Careers

Now, when you are applying for a job – you do not just want to solely focus on submitting 50 resumes via Monster.com or Indeed.com without knowing the purpose of the company! This is one of the biggest mistakes a job applicant can make. If you think that relying on online applications with just your resume and cover letter is enough to land you an interview in 2020, you need to try harder. With the highest unemployment rate in history, there are more available job seekers than job openings. You are competing with many hungry job seekers. And talent acquisition is not going back to the way it was, pre-covid.

Keep in mind that when applying, most applications require you to complete a Virtual Job Tryout (It is typically valid for 3 months if you score well. If you don’t score well, you can reapply 6 months after your application date) – It feels like an assessment, but what it’s really like is that it’s a way to find out what it would feel for you to work there and see what you’ll most likely do and what you’ll least likely do.

For example, CVS Health implements Virtual Job Tryouts to deliver better quality candidates and fill roles quicker.

“What work style is most like you?” It’s just mostly looking for you to answer consistently and honestly. Don’t lie, keep your professional hat on so that the results can determine what you are able to do in your job. For example, you want to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think of what it would be if you were a family member shopping at your local retail store.

Once you have applied, please don’t forget to go on LinkedIn – begin to reach out and start building relationships with your potential hiring manager or colleagues in the recruitment/HR team. Let them know that you understand their needs, mission and goals and find ways to emphasize your value in relation to them.

The retail sector among many others, are one of the hardest hit right now – with some temporary or permanent closures of hundreds to thousands of stores, production coming to a halt, getting ready for a second or third stage of layoffs; in which all of these factors are causing bankruptcies, putting businesses in massive debts – resulting in thousands and millions unemployed as businesses are no longer in service.

However, research shows that the healthcare sector is high in demand and the demand will continue to surge in the next 5+ years. Healthcare is so crucial to the economy and the New York job market growth as well as many states.

Luckily, if you have worked in retail for many years – you are still in luck! CVS Health is still actively hiring. Sometimes when applying online, hiring managers receive a lot of applications and it will take them a long time to filter through the applicants’ applications. So a pro tip is when you are going to the store to do some shopping, you want to also let the manager know – by introducing yourself, give your elevator speech about how you have applied for a role with them. Keep in mind that you are sort of interviewing with that person already. You want to show them your first impression.

On the other hand, let’s look at Spectrum (Charter Communications). Spectrum offers four primary value propositions: accessibility, convenience, performance, and brand/status. Let’s say you are looking to apply for a Customer Service role there. Here are some tips, coming from Spectrum’s recruiter.

  • If you have 20+ years in customer service, customer account management, resolving customer concerns – you’ll do well on the interview.
  • But, there is a computerized assessment you would have to first pass to get the interview.  The test is designed to answer the question, “has this applicant the aptitude and / or experience to work in a call center?”
  • If you’ve worked in a call center (like 311, Geico, Telemarketing, Survey Center), for certain you’ll pass the assessment based on your experience alone – however if you’ve never worked in a call center but have the aptitude for it, you’ll still pass the assessment. If that really isn’t your thing, for sure you wouldn’t pass the assessment – then, the system will notify you your application will not be moved forward.
  • If all of those factors work for you, then, you should give it a try. Click here to apply.

But before you apply, I want you to make sure that the employers that you apply for, has core values that aligns with your values. You want to ask yourself, “What values do I look for in my future workplace?”

This is important to so many job seekers that I have assisted. Many candidates look for employers that not only care about their employees especially during this challenging time, however the employers must have missions and values that align with the candidate’s personal values as well. There are so many well rounded candidates out there that are looking to work on products that matter, especially when they are deciding where they want to head towards in their career path.

Transparency of core values are important, but not all employers express it in their job descriptions. Below are some of the company values that HR professionals and recruiters from different states/countries and sectors/industries, provided 1-2 of their multiple perspectives – in which they are looking to improving their behavioral expectations for their employees and organization in the long-term:

  • Me: “Stay committed to eliminating barriers that restrict the employment opportunities available to the disabled and minorities, by making sure that all individuals are supported and feel included regardless of age, race, gender, religion etc. – which ultimately leads to a bigger step in being a better employer.”
  • Manager from the Recruiting Operations team at a technology-based consulting company: “Improving behavioral expectations could revolve around a rewards based system for positive customer praise. This could be a public practice where an employee is acknowledged company wide for going above and beyond for customer, receiving the deserved approval. This illustrates the importance of the company’s values with recognized appreciation. For the specific role of Program Manager, a financial reward could be given acknowledging the positive impact their behaviors have had on the customer. This would promote the continued effort of the behavior producing favored results for all parties.”
  • Be transparent in compensation to gain employee trust.
    • Recruiter at an automotive insurance agency: “My recommendation is to really stay true to our min, mid, max points of roles and to share with the candidates a narrowed range that their compensation will increase before they interview. This gives them a chance to decide if the position aligns with what they are hoping to get out of it and also it doesn’t take away from their moment of celebration if they are shocked at the amount they are offered. I think the fear from our company is that we don’t want to create an environment of people pursuing roles solely for the pay and we want people to pursue their talents and interests. I happen to agree with this, but I think it’s also realistic to believe that we’re all here in someway for a paycheck and a candidate is agreeing, before seeing a salary range, to give 40+ hours a week to this team and their promise to ‘work with purpose and energy’ (our value) but we need to offer them the same respect of giving some indication of what we feel that is worth as far as a salary goes.”
  • Human Resources Recruiter/Employment Specialist at a College: “We currently have a bonus program in which employees who interact positively with our clients are eligible for a significant bonus. However, not all positions interact with clients, so a number of employees are automatically ineligible.  Instead, it may be beneficial to have some kind of reward or recognition program for colleagues who have a positive impact on their coworkers and/or who show respect to everyone that they interact with. This would reinforce the importance of those interpersonal skills. 
    To improve sustainability we could have a program where individuals who come up with a sustainability program or initiative to receive a portion of the money that was saved due to the implementation of their suggestion or some kind of recognition. We often talk about the importance of sustainability but demonstrating some real-life situations may help employees understand why it is important and increase their usage of the various strategies as well as our employee’s commitment to finding new ways for environmental and financial sustainability.”
  • Talent Acquisition Specialist at a management consulting firm: “To improve and sustain each employees behaviour with a clear focus on the three school pillars, an ongoing mentoring program among staff and faculty could be taking place so  each employee can learn from others on different behavioural situations that they’ve experienced in the past. Another one could be to extend a situational assessment test during the recruitment process of new staff or faculty  members. Therefore the test could more precisely and effectively identify staff behaviours when exposed in different situations.”
  • Talent Acquisition Service Manager in a globally operating technology company: “Area of improvement is to have a culture meeting that would allow employees from different areas of the organization experience more these values and shared with others outside of their own organization and that would help embed more these values within the employees so it becomes part of their DNA of service and mentality. Have these values as a permanent part of the employee’s performance metrics of each objective. Communication tends to focus on a specific strategy and can feel disassociated from the values which can tend to cause confusion if these are not constantly articulated by Leadership.”
  • Talent Acquisition Specialist at a mobile telecommunications operator company: “Firstly, many employees do not see a link between the values and their role, so a good way of communicating these values would be to include them in the individual employee’s Job Description. Each task Listed can have a box next to it which identifies the value (if applicable).
    Secondly, Employee Value Proposition campaigns should not be run once and forgotten, they need to happen annually to remind employees.”
  • Director of Talent Management at a software startup company: “Our company is still in its early stages and our core values were recently introduced. One way in which we could improve behavioral expectations is by incorporating our core values and expectations into our recruiting process. Our values should be represented within our job postings, discussed during the screen process and be a part of our actual interview questions so that we can establish how a person will fit into our culture. This would also ensure that employees know what’s expected of them on their first day. Another way we can incorporate these expectations is through our performance management processes including 30-60-90 day plans for new hires, performance reviews, performance plans, manager/employee 1:1s and promotions. The first step would be to include the expectations in our goal setting, 1:1 and performance reviews. Goal setting is a great way to tie individual goals to our values. The 1:1s are really a follow up on those goals as well as reinforcing the manager’s commitment and responsibility to the employee’s success. Finally, the performance reviews are a review of the goal attainment and a culmination of the continuous feedback via the 1:1s.”
  • Benefits Manager at a book publishing company: “More transparency at my company is overdue. This is a hugely missed opportunity for the incumbent talent to really feel valued and supported; and that their longevity and careers are equally important. We often find that people who sit in privilege or have been given the privileged of exposure to those making decisions are the ones who repeatedly get recognized or are invited to sit on different committees impacting change.  Something that is currently in the works is rebuilding the structural foundation of mapping out career opportunities and planning.  I think when we become more transparent than more employees will be able to assess what they are trying to aspire to attain and then curate a path to reach their goals. In addition we have to invest in the tools to take on more accountability of performance reviews and put more weight on their value – it’s unfair for an employee to put the time and effort into answering the questions if they are going to go unnoticed.”
  • Human Resources Manager at a real estate – bustling urban playhouse: “I think the organization does a good job with communicating the behavioral expectations. We have a monthly micro-bonus incentive in place that monetarily rewards employees who are mentioned by name in a 5-star online review. My suggestion would be to continue to reward and praise these behaviors, so our employees stay motivated and feel fulfilled. Another suggestion would be to be clearer in communicating our pay scales with regards to long-term growth in positions; this would help employees understand the timeline in which they are encouraged to achieve certain goals/metrics in order to advance within the organization.”
  • HR Professional in the Cannabis Industry: “My recommendations for improving compliance and consumer education are to introduce regular training outside of the new hire period and to make products available at a steeper discount for Retail Associates to try.
    Regular training outside of the new hire period would include an overview of state regulation and refreshers on existing products, their effects, and their recommended use. It would also occur as new products are released for sale. This training would occur in the form of a short seminar, which would include written materials, a presentation by a product expert, and a question and answer session.
    Most of our Retail Associates are product users and have requested to purchase discounted product to test it and report back on its effects. Our regulations stipulate that we cannot give product away for free for this purpose, but discounting is permissible.
    Customers continually ask employees how a product has worked for them, and empowering employees with both the high-level training as well as the hands-on experience will improve the customer education experience.”
  • Lead HR Consultant at a small HR consulting firm: “I felt as though these expected behaviors could have been better communicated throughout the entire recruitment process, starting at the job posting phase. In addition to better communicating our expected behaviors through the recruitment process, a more rigorous performance management system involving bi-monthly ‘check-ins’ would be beneficial. Typically, any given mandate does not last more than 90 days, so having more frequent touch points would be helpful in ensuring the quality of our final product is where we would like it to be.”
  • HR Specialist at a 5 star hotel: “Leading by example – management should clearly stick to the desired behaviors and especially stick to the “top 12″ ones. They should know them by heart so that they can cite the according behavior or standard in case of negligence demonstrated by an employee. This will make it easier for managers to be heard and have their criticism accepted, because they base their recommendation on organization wide common knowledge.  Incorporate the desired behaviors in all kinds of trainings: classroom trainings, mentorings and coachings as well as cross departmental trainings. Use a blend of theoretical reminders as well as practical exercises where the values are connected to resulting behaviors.”
  • Talent Acquisition Partner at a beauty and cosmetic company: “The first recommendation I have for my company when it comes to improving behavioral expectations is tied to the Covid-19 Pandemic: I think it’s important to harp on the fact that just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you need to work 12 hours a day. Though we will go back to the office at some point, WFH is going to be huge going forward. We care a lot about employee mental and overall health, and I fear we aren’t communicating enough that people need to take breaks throughout the day and stop working at a certain point. We say that behaviorally we want people to not overwork, but we need to communicate that more (over slack, emails, announcements, etc.).
    The second recommendation I have is to be clearer about Career Paths. Our Director of HR was just brought on about 4 months ago and I was only brought on 1 month ago, so this is something we know is really important for us to get done. Part of what I’m implementing is when a new opportunity opens up at the company, the Hiring Manager needs to provide me with a 3-5 year career path for this person. Once I have that, I can communicate it with potential candidates. That said, for anyone in the organization that communication isn’t there, and we really need to reinforce this fact that we want people to stay and grow with us.”
  • Director of HR: “One of two recommendations I would give to the company is around the issue of avenues of communication. We have a strong desire for people to speak and be heard but we primarily rely on the singular form of communication in person or through email. Although this is great I believe more communication avenues would bring about a greater sense of people’s value within the company. Some online company forums and anonymous drop boxes for suggestions and complaints would encourage people’s honesty and make people feel like the company desires to hear from them. 
    The second recommendation an administrative one. On some occasions, we have neglected to reward people for the actions because we simply didn’t have proper administration set in place. This leaves people feeling like they have been neglected within the company. There should be a better format for administering rewards to employees. All those who have achieved something deserving of recognition should be placed within a program that reminds management until they physically check it off as complete.  That way no one will feel neglected by the company but would always receive recognition for a job well done.”
  • Founder and Director of legal services: “At my company, we have 3 pillars that serve as our company values. First, we use technology and operational excellent to deliver a delightful customer experience. Second, we embrace and relish change, growth, and celebrate failures as opportunities to grow. Three, we share goals, support each other across organizational boundaries and we win and lose together. In order to fully embrace our three pillars, employees need to be open minded, accept radical change often and look at mistakes or failures as opportunities instead of as a shameful occurrence. For all of this to happen, communication and transparency are key. In order to improve expectations and measure performance, the use of periodic check ins, and conversations about performance are very important. In addition, I believe strongly in 360 degree feedback, although it requires a mature team, and a commitment to personal and professional development. My organization does not engage in 360s now, however, I think it would be a huge improvement if we did.”
  • Practice Lead on Compensation and Benefits at a multinational corporation that provides next-generation digital services and consulting: “I work for one of the leading service based organization where it is more valued and believe in company cultural Values in the form of “C-LIFE”. Each letter of the word representing a value and it stands for the following: C – Customer delight, L – Leadership by example, I – Integrity and Transparency, F – Fairness to all transactions and E – focus on Excellency. 
    > Compensation plays a critical role in attracting and retaining the right talent to meet organizational goals and also it is important to think about the employee as they are one of the important key stakeholders of the company who has major role to play and align to meet the organization goals Hence it is recommended to demonstrate individual with transparency and fairness in all the transaction with an effective compensation strategy and communication.
    > An effective compensation strategy and communication. should connect the individual performance and organizational outcomes. In order for a total rewards system to function efficiently and effectively, we need to ensure through effective communication on the process / Policy / Training on the company value system.”
  • Recruiting Manager at a College admissions service company: “My recommendations are focused on how we communicate the above behavior expectations/core values. I would first recommenced that we glorify the teacher as well as the student when highlighting student success stories because right now we make a big deal about the student who got into the Ivy league school or had the most score improvement but not the teacher that helped get them there. Additionally, I would recommend highlighting a student who succeeded under extraordinary circumstances (someone in a low income area, etc) event if that success looks a bit more average. We have a tendency to focus on the students who got into Ivy League schools but I think that our average student’s idea of success is simply getting into college or getting a merit based scholarship. We make an effort to help undeserved communities but we never highlight those student’s successes and I think that is more reflective of the average student than the highest achieving student who came to us with a 1400 already and we got them to a 1500 after their wealthy parents purchased the most expensive private tutoring packages.”
  • Talent Management Specialist of Organizational Development at a multinational corporation that provides next-generation digital services and consulting: “Behaviour expectations from employees are largely communicated through managers. Two improvements that can be done – (1) Introduce success stories of folks who have emulated these values and been successful in the organization – this can be communicated to the larger organization for others to learn (2) Introduce a positive reinforcement in terms of an additional incentive for achieving certain specific outcomes that drive those values.”
  • Human Resources Manager at a Staffing Agency that provides nurses for facilities and homes: “One recommendation for improving behavioral goals is by offering a monetary reward when a scheduler finds a replacement for nurses that call out.  Some schedulers just leave a position open due to someone calling out.  Others go the extra mile and call another nurse that can cover the shift.  If a scheduler goes the extra mile, we could give them an extra $50 because they are showing a commitment to the organization. 
    The second recommendation would be to have a quarterly bonus for the percentage of open cases they fill.  As with any job you can work fast or drag your feet.  If a scheduler stays busy they should be able to cover all our open cases.  By choosing to be prudent with their time they are making a decision that aligns with our core beliefs which is to help as many people as possible.”
  • Employee Experience & Organizational Development Specialist at a nursing home facility: “A recommendation that I would put forth as to how we could improve behavioral expectations is to create consistency throughout the organization. It appears that certain teams make up their own rule and expectations, which causes a bit of turmoil when other departments observe these actions/behaviors and try to do the same but can’t ‘get away with it’ because their leader adheres to the company’s standards.  I think this comes down to not all leaders feeling comfortable with having difficult conversations and holding their employees accountable. 
    I believe another area of opportunity is how we communicate these expectations.  We are a large organization – 1200 employees across three different campuses.  We have many front line workers who do not have computer access so simply sending out an email is not good enough.  In theory, leaders should be conveying information with their direct teams but I am doubtful that is actually happening.  I would suggest creating a standard of behavior and having a core team meet with every single team directly and sharing the same consistent message.  From there, I think leaders should be held accountable themselves to ensure this behavior standard is always being met.”
  • Area Manager in the Logistics Department at an e-commerce company: “What could be done better is the transparency to all members of management when seeking diversity within the management staff.  Internally they do make a focus on diversity and inclusion with multiple diversity groups within the organization, in which members of management have open round tables of discussions and panels to illuminate their experiences, as well give insight for entry-level associates feedback on how to help achieve their goals as well.  When hiring externally the recruiter and upper level management have clear data and make a conscious effort to have the population of the management team mirror the population of the employees as a whole.  Where there is a disconnect on the transparency is between the department managers when they are trying to identify all-star associates that they want to train and develop into assistants or entry level management.  If all members of management are aware of the current management profile and the goals of diversity and inclusion, they can evaluate the decisions of who they could possible identify as those future leaders.  This will also in turn help morale of the associates because they will not just see those leaders hired in externally that they can relate to, but know that with hard work they can advance and achieve it as well themselves.
    The other opportunity I see is the practice of hiring entry-level associates.  I do not have the access in data of cost/benefit analysis which I am sure has been performed for the practice of working with a sourcing agency when it comes to hiring in contrast to the internal recruitment department which handles management and higher technical positions within the company.  The sourcing agency I am sure yields a higher quantity of individuals especially to meet production demands at various peak seasons of the year, but due to attrition, cos to hire/train new associates, their productivity, capacity to advance into leadership roles, and whether or not these individuals are in as much alignment with the company values if it would be more efficient or not to invest more time and money into screening to yield better qualified associates that align with company values.  If we are then increasing the quality of the entry level associates that we bring in, then in turn if we as managers are doing our job of proving the coaching and training needed to develop those associates to set them up for success, we wouldn’t have to hire externally as much when it came to managerial roles.”
  • HR Associate for a Meat Manufacturing Company: “I think that we have pretty basic values, but we don’t do a very good job a explaining how and why they are so important to our employees. One way we could improve on this is to start an initiative where we post the values around the office and manufacturing facility with their definitions and ways that employees  help contribute to the values. Another way that we can improve behavioral expectations is to create a recognition program. We can create value cards where people can recognize something a coworker did that exemplified a company value. Drawing attention to good behavior will lead to more good behavior in line with company values.”

2020 Resume/Career Advice For Beginners

Image via Vecteezy

While there are certain sectors or industries on the rise, job searching can be tough during this current economic uncertainty. With over 30 million Americans unemployed, many may not have the experience or knowledge base for the role that they are applying for because 1) the job that they were temporarily/permanently laid off or furloughed are currently unavailable since there are no openings due to COVID-19; OR 2) the available jobs available in the labor market is not what they are ideally searching for.

This has been extremely overwhelming for the whole nation and this especially makes it harder for individuals who have to keep a roof over their families’ heads, have babies/children to feed, pay rent and bills, etc.

The key component that is really important right now, is your RESUME. As we all know, it is mid-July now… we are all home since mid-March, which has been 4 months. There are ways that job seekers can change their adaptations of their resumes from what used to be on their resumes. Back then, we generally like to include as many details as possible and what we are proficient in to tailor it according to the job description.

Ideally during then, you want your resume to look presentable to the employer. However, the main issue has always been that job seekers struggle very hard on translating or interpreting that information to their interviews. Now, with COVID-19 and people being home, what job seekers need to do is to draw themselves between two things. Either you are a good public speaker and you should just have general stuff listed on your resume so that you can save it all for the interview to showcase your excellent communication skills; or if you are more shy/introverted, you might have all detailed information on your resume but you will need to practice more on improving your communication effectively during your interview.

Many individuals oftentimes get so nervous about changing their resumes. It shouldn’t be hard when they have it on their flash drives or saved onto their desktops. Many of them right now just do not want to go back to square one again and I totally feel for them. And that can pose issues for those who may have criminal justice record, failing a drug test and anyone who refuses to start from scratch all over again.

On the other hand, those who are still working in their part-time jobs or have reduced hours, are the ones who are still hungry and are currently looking for work. They’re hungry by saying – “Now is not only about experience and not about your resume, because everyone not only in New York City but the U.S. is looking for a job right now. It’s you versus everyone.” Unless you have a good relationship with people and can build or have built some kind of connection with them through LinkedIn or by volunteering, it will be difficult.

So let’s say, what if you only have 1 month of experience at a retail store because it was a seasonal role? What if you do have experience but you couldn’t translate that into a resume? Especially with difficult times like these, you really want to hone in on your job description and you want to place emphasis on the skills that you know the employer wants – which is conveyed in the job description. For instance for a cashier role, if they are seeking someone who is great with the cashiering, customer service skills and using numbers to define how much revenue you increased for the company – you want to really emphasize those things on the resume but you have to tailor it each time because each job, each employer desires different things. And if it’s a customer service job, you will want to shift the customer service bullet up to the top and if it’s not, then you either take it off or shift it to the bottom. This is what would be recommended for someone who does not have a whole lot of experience, on how to at least get the resume to help them advance to the next step.

One of the most resourceful and quickest ways in landing your job/career if you have not built your network, is to seek a career coach to assist you with your resume since they are armed with many valuable resources. On top of that, they have connections with many employers from different industries and sectors – which they can help place you in a job that you are looking for. Many non-profit organizations that are workforce providers offer free services on career development such as resume/cover letter writing, honing your interview skills, career advice, work readiness training and even job placement assistance.

Career coaches are very helpful during this time since they have employer partners who reach out to them for recruitment assistance. They are the ones who are consistently up to date with the labor market trends and which industries/sectors are hiring and not hiring. Career coaches and job placement specialists have seen and judged resumes that they thought would not make it to a job, that actually made it. If they are referring the job seeker to an employer, a useful way with helping them tailor the resumes are by looking at the job description as mentioned earlier. If the job description doesn’t convey honestly what the employer wants, your career coach can help you find out what the employer wants. Career coaches will take their time to coach and counsel you to the best version of yourself and make sure that you know every single thing before you walk into the interview.

They will be there to teach you not to give up, to really hang in there for the long haul, keep applying, keep at it – although we know at this time it is terribly difficult.

Normally, job seekers are asked “What have you been doing ever since you’ve lost your job and how do you fill in that gap?” and now we want to replace it with “What have you been doing since COVID-19 has invaded our lives?”
If you are learning how to use Zoom, remote work or even taking courses to enhance your digital literacy skills, then that is a resume builder. If you are currently taking care of family, then you are a caretaker.

To wrap this up, this is about teaching yourself how to fail. This is about teaching yourself how to not be afraid, how to throw your chances out there and be hungry. If you’re not taught to fail and you’re just going to hold onto that one job, what if they never practiced their interview skills after working in that same job for 2 years?

Moral of the story is, don’t be afraid to throw your resume to every single job opportunity out there in every field because guess what? You may end up liking that job that you’d never imagine that you would be doing. In many cases, there is always room for advancement regardless of what your title is, what department you work for or which industry/sector you are coming from. Your learning experiences come through your resume, you’re receiving feedback during your interviews and if a job really wants you, then you will possess that confidence.

It has been such a fast and deep downturn and that’s what’s unprecedented – we can’t compare it to any other downturn because of that. The problem is that we don’t know what the next 6 to 24 months are going to look like but the job search/hunt process and every new growing opportunity out there is, has always been and will be limitless.