Thursday, November 4, 2010

So the techniques actually work...

This is a guest post by Assad Faquir. My appreciation and thanks Assad!

As one of the millions of people "in transition" I have experienced the highs and lows of "funemployment." As most unemployed people can tell you, one of the highest highs is when you get a call back for an interview. Similarly more than a few us can agree that the lowest low is when that same interview leads no where. For me, I had a few interviews that ended with a "your skills are impressive, BUT we are going with another candidate." Which I know is the professional version of "its not you its me."

After my 3rd or 4th dead end interview in 8 months, I changed the focus of my job search to selling my skills on a contractual basis. The change worked, but I was facing the same "interview" problem with the decision makers I was meeting. I simply couldn't get a commitment from any of them. However I was determined not to squander all of my new opportunities, so I crowdsourced my problem to the experts I know on Twitter. A few people offered advice but one, David Graziano, offered a few minutes of his time to give some techniques. I explained to him that I have a hard time selling myself, and since all interviews are sales calls he offered some good advice. I asked David at what point should I stop trying to sell and let the interviewer sell themselves? David gave me a tip from his personal bag of tricks. He said, when you reach that point of selling yourself too much, ask two questions:

1) What are the problems/issues you have run into trying to get the job accomplished currently?

And after they answer and you have some brief discussion, follow up with:

2) What solutions have you attempted to overcome these issues?

I took David's advice and ran with it. The next morning when I had my 2nd interview with a local bank I reached my maximum sales volume and deployed question 1... and the interviewer ate it up. The interviewer confessed all the struggles they had with the job. It gave me a chance to both empathize and dialogue my experience with similar problems. Then came question 2...again the interviewer ate it up and shared with me all of the solutions that led nowhere. The answers provided by the interviewer allowed me to again empathize with the struggle, but now I could offer some real examples of how I could solve the problem beyond what they had already attempted. In other words I was selling myself as the solution without making it obvious.

Well needless to say David's trick worked to perfection and within 2 days I had a 4 month contract offer in hand. The advice David gave me broke my habit of focusing on ME in the interview and allowed me to focus on the real needs of the company. Which when you think about it is the key to any interview or sales presentation...focusing on the problem and becoming the solution, not assuming you ARE the solution to an unknown problem.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Journey Takes An Interesting Turn

In my previous Post, “You won’t believe this…” I shared with you my experience of directly contacting the VP of Talent Acquisition and my subsequent experience. Well, my journey with the same organization takes an interesting turn.

I was contacted by a colleague, not employed by the organization, and informed that another VP in the same organization (Talent Acquisition) was interested in speaking with me about providing Consulting services to the Talent Acquisition team. I am sure you that you can appreciate the irony in the twist of events. I was interested and excited to meet with the VP and begin to develop a strategy of how we could partner together to work with the challenges that we were going to face.

Our meeting lasted 35 minutes (scheduled for 30), it was professional, cordial and open. I was impressed with the philosophy of the Talent Acquisition team in partnering with the Hiring Managers in the supported line of business within the company. It appeared to me, based on my brief discussion, that the “partnering” was challenging on a behavioral level for the Talent Acquisition team. The Hiring Managers were saying; “This is the way that it is and will be.” The Talent Acquisition team was saying; “Okay, but…” I will not bore you with the particulars; I know that you all understand.

I inquired about accountability of the Talent Acquisition team and the accountability of the Hiring Managers to each other. I was informed: “The Hiring Managers are challenging at times.” I continued to probe and received the same reply.

I then suggested that this is where I viewed our first challenge: Gaining a commitment from the Talent Acquisition team and the Hiring Managers to ensure each other’s success. I framed this by stating that we had to engage the Hiring Managers and Talent Acquisition team in discussions about specific behaviors, time frames and deadlines to occur. This is when the VP said that there was another meeting that needed to be attended. Thirty five minutes had passed. We thanked each other and I said I would follow up by phone the next day and we agreed upon a time. I followed up with an email summarizing our conversation and stating that “mutual accountability” was a key to success.

Upon my next day’s follow up, I was informed that the Hiring Managers would “never buy into an aggressive approach” and they would be “too uncomfortable” with the approach. I attempted to overcome the objections and was unable to.

Here is my take. We, as Talent Acquisition Specialists, must hold ourselves accountable for our behaviors. We must take ownership and make commitments to the Hiring Mangers that are mutually agreed upon and that we know we can keep. We need to model the desired behavior. We can begin this modeling by facilitating a dialogue and process by asking two very simple questions of all involved: “How can we help each other and the Talent in hiring for the position(s)?” and “What do you need from me to ensure our success?”

STOP pointing fingers at each other and engage each other thru helping each other to be successful by sharing meaningful content. Partner, eliminate the “uncovered agenda” of the hiring and interview process.

Yes, I have a template for this; yes it is going to be uncomfortable for us as Hiring Managers and Talent Acquisition Specialists. Change and growth always are. We (Hiring Managers, Talent Acquisition Specialists and Talent) are in this together. Are we all committed to our mutual success? I am.

Monday, August 23, 2010

You will not believe this....

Recently I was attempting to secure a position with a large financial services organization as a Sr Talent Acquisition Specialist. I did what I do and I went to LinkedIn and searched for the VP of Talent Acquisition and called. To my pleasant surprise I was immediately connected to the person, not a voice mail! In the course of my conversation I was told that the organization does not accept phone calls from candidates or resumes sent directly to the recruiters. I was told that if one of the "excellent recruiters on the team" determined that I was a "fit" for the position I would be contacted. This was stated in a very professional cordial manner and I was complimented for my tenacity. I did attempt to overcome the objection to the call and my asking to send a resume directly to a recruiter or calling the recruiter three times and was denied three times, again with the utmost professionalism. I do respect the VP's position. I was informed that because of the volume of applicants that managing individual contacts was unproductive.

Wait, this is a Talent Acquisition position we are discussing correct? Aren't Talent Acquisition professionals tenacious by definition? We hunt, source and seek out new Talent by definition, correct? When I was managing Talent Acquisition pros I was impressed if they called a Sr Manager directly to introduce themselves and the reason for the call. I encouraged and modeled the behavior. I have had a successful career doing this and I have trained others who are currently being successful using this technique among others to the "right thing."

If organizations want to Post and Pray when seeking a specialized talent/skill set so be it. I would be so bold as to say good luck and if you don't want to interview a Talent Acquisition Specialist that is tenacious, then you may want to re-think your Talent Acquisition Strategy or do much praying. Just saying...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Announcing a Social Recruiting Strategy Service Offering

I am pleased to announce that I am now adding Social Recruiting Strategy to my portfolio of Talent Acquisition Services. If your organization is searching for a way to understand and implement a Social Recruiting Strategy I am inviting you to contact me and begin a dialogue.

If you are Talent seeking an opportunity I am inviting you to contact me and we can begin a dialogue regarding how I can assist you in developing your Personal Brand and marketing yourself using LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook and other Social Networking platforms.

I maybe contacted at 1 401 294-1079 or