Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Are Your Children a Failure if They Don’t Grow up to be Doctors or Lawyers?

Jewish mothers are stereotyped as wanting their children to become doctors or lawyers.  Given the sheer number of Jewish physicians and attorneys (notwithstanding the apparent shortage of medical professionals in Israel), it seems that mothers are doing an excellent job of influencing their children.

However, when such professions are not appropriate for a particular child, what is a Jewish mother to do?

A few years ago, I heard what I considered to be a very enlightened principal of a school say something like the following: 

I had a student come to me that got 30% on a test.  His teachers and parents were criticizing him because he had done so poorly.  I told him that I was proud of him.  He got 100% on the questions for which he knew the answers.

One of my friends, as a present to his children upon completion of army duty, spends a not small amount of money to enable his children to take career aptitude/interest tests conducted by professionals.  As an example, for one of his sons, the results showed a good match for a dietician.  Almost certainly this young man would never have considered this particular job as a profession.  Yet, because he took the test, he decided to further investigate, and now, a few years later, after completing the relevant studies, he is happily working as a dietician.

Over my years of assisting job seekers find work, there have been many occasions when a mother or father has contacted me about work for their adult child.  This is an immediate red flag for me, and I always tell the parent that their child is welcome to be in direct touch with me.  Not once has the child ever contacted me after an approach from the parent.

Choosing a job/profession is difficult enough to do based upon your own interests/aptitude, without having to take into account expectations of others.  And, living in the 21st century, making a career/job choice at one particular point of time is not as critical as it was for previous generations.  According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics in the US, people nowadays average more than five careers in their lifetime.  And while I would tend to believe that the longer someone must study for a profession, the less likely the person is to change, I have met with many professionals that were burned out and wanted to do something else.  In fact, I am one such person, leaving a hi-tech career after 20 years.

And, if you do experience anxiety that your child is not living up to your expectations for them professionally, and this worry is manifested by eating too much, you are welcome to be in touch with me - I can connect you with a good dietician :>)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Has Your Job Search Reached the Ninja Level?

Even though I am involved in the recruitment sector, I find myself somehow out of touch with certain terms that are used regularly in job titles, including ninja, rock star, samurai, assassin, mermaid… (Ok, I admit, I made the last two up).  For instance, here are some recent examples: seeking a rock star programmer, or a sales ninja needed.

A job candidate recently sent me their CV, and informed me that their English was at a samurai level.  I wrote back to ask if this was a higher than a ninja or rock-star English level, but didn’t receive a response – so I am now wondering if samurai is somehow below fluency level, and the candidate was not able to understand my question in English.  In fact, I imagine that most of the hereditary warrior class in feudal Japan (the definition I found for samurai on was probably less than conversational in English.

Maybe someone reading this would be kind enough to define these terms. 

And for you creative souls out there, I would be happy to receive your suggestions of additional job titles that we can introduce into this dynamic, superhero-like mix. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Good Job Seeker’s Dilemma

Job seekers oftentimes must make such decisions at some point in their careers:

     ·         Stay at my current company or go to a new one? 
     ·         Which new job offer is the best opportunity for me? 

What to do???

For those of you unemployed and reading this, having trouble getting one good job offer, this might seem like a dream situation.  However, the fact is that for those that find themselves in such a situation, sleepless nights are the norm.

In these cases, whether you employed or not, the situations are actually very similar, with the only difference being whether one of the options is to remain at a current position.

These types of decisions require left-brain/right-brain agility, meaning using some element of logic as well as paying attention to your gut (emotion). 

The financial element is always present, and for some job seekers, the only issue of importance. 

For many though, besides compensation, the company itself and a person’s anticipated fit into the company are equally important.  How the job seeker perceives the environment of the new company and the people they will be working with is oftentimes critical, and this is why the interviews and conversations with potential bosses and/or co-workers are so important when making the decision. 

It is so easy for a candidate to think of the recruitment process as one-directional, trying to convince the employer that you are worth hiring.  However, the other aspect is equally relevant – deciding if the company and specific role is appropriate for you.  So, while the company is trying to make its determination, you should be doing the same.  Identify, even before you visit the company, those issues that are important to you, professional and otherwise, and use your powers of observation from your time at the interviews themselves to glean what you can.  Is the work environment quiet or loud, are people working in groups or alone, is it clean or messy, what is the average age – all of these can be factors depending upon who you are and what you want.  These are not necessarily the types of things that will be clear in interviews, but at some point you generally get the opportunity to see the actual working spaces and sometimes even have the chance to speak with potential colleagues, so take advantage when the situation arises.

In addition, most job candidates don’t make an effort to reach out to people that are working at or have knowledge of the company, instead relying upon impressions from the people they meet as part of the official recruitment process.  However, just as the company asks the job seeker for references, job candidates can also take it upon themselves to use their network of acquaintances together with websites like LinkedIn to research the company itself, and speak to individuals that have an understanding of the employer.

Besides the specific details of the alternatives, there is a big intangible as well.  Something in the DNA of the person that plays a big part in these types of decisions, a person’s ability to accept risk:

·         I have seen a number of times that a person currently working gets a job offer from another company and ultimately decides to stay at their current employer, even when the conditions (financial, professional and otherwise) at the new company were considerably more attractive.  Nonetheless, risk and change can be so undesirable for the individual that they decide to stay with the known and comfortable option.
·         The converse is also true.   Someone jumps to a new company for an extra 500 shekels a month, and quickly learns that the new company is not so stable, finding themselves out of a job in a short period of time.

During your job search, choices are always a positive, but they don’t make things easier for you.  Think carefully, speak with others, and learn as much as you can about the alternatives before making a decision.

I have a dilemma of my own these days.

My team, the Golden State Warriors, is playing in the NBA finals against Cleveland, with their Israeli coach David Blatt. 

I allude to a similar far-fetched situation in a previous article about searching for work, loyalty, and sports:  Now, amazingly, it has come true.

My childhood (and current) favorite basketball team is playing in the NBA finals against a team with an Israeli connection – whom to root for? 

Because I am getting grief about this from all sides, I feel the need to publically respond. 

I am a big David Blatt fan, and appreciate what he has accomplished throughout his career as a proud Israeli, including leading his team in his first year in the NBA to the finals.  He is the ideal representative of Israel for the sports world in America.  My brain makes a strong case for his team.

However, I simply can’t force myself to do it.  My heart tells me the Warriors, a team that has not won a championship in 40 years, is the only choice for me.  I can hopefully mitigate the potential ill-feelings by others in Israel with this choice by pointing out that the star of my Warriors, Steph Curry, has a Hebrew phrase tattooed on his arm.

Go Warriors!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Dynamic Resume/CV and Static LinkedIn Profile

I teach my job seeking clients that they should consider as if their LinkedIn profile is virtually stapled to each CV that they send out. Ignoring this is a grave danger; recruiters will find your profile on LinkedIn if they invest a small amount of time, and believe me, many do!

If the LinkedIn profile positively complements your resume, everything is wonderful. However, if your persona on LinkedIn is somehow different or adds confusion for a recruiter, you can be eliminated from contention for a job without even being aware of it.

Most job seekers create multiple versions of their resume because they have more than one objective in their job search, and/or decide to emphasize different elements in their background depending upon the specific targeted job. In such real-world situations, the static nature of the LinkedIn profile that is associated with these various versions of the resume creates a problem.

And, since LinkedIn currently gives no means to a person to create the equivalent of multiple profiles, one to match their different resumes/job targets, there is no satisfying solution.

With such an obvious inherent conflict, some people choose to make the LinkedIn profile all-encompassing, essentially a combination of all versions of their resume. Another approach is to use LinkedIn to supplement their primary job search objective, and lose the benefit of LinkedIn as a complement for the remaining career goals.

Either of these solutions is imperfect at best, and until LinkedIn allows for the equivalent of multiple profile functionality, there is no way for many job seekers to fully support their job search efforts using this otherwise excellent employment search resource.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Misreading the Job Search Situation

So, my 13-year old son starts yelling yesterday morning as he is getting ready for school.  The current fashion style where we live is for kids to wear pants that have holes in them.  They buy them that way, and from what I can see, it seems that the more holes they have, and the bigger the holes are, the more expensive the pants actually are.  I would think that since they require less material, the cost would be lower, but that is not the way it works.

Anyway, the problem my son had on this fine morning was that his pants were wrinkled.  Yes, it’s true, a kid that is happily wearing pants that have holes in them for some reason does not like it if they are wrinkled.  I naively assumed that once he had passed the point of preferring a defect in his clothes, another imperfection would be considered even more of a positive.  In fact, I even started to hope that if our kids liked wrinkles in their clothes, the amount of time spent ironing in our house would go down.  Apparently though, not all faults are the same.

We make assumptions all the time when searching for a job, and sometimes we are wrong.  Generally though, we don’t have someone so vocally telling us when this happens.

There have been a few times over the past couple of weeks that I have heard complaints from job seekers, and I am not sure they are justified.

These particular complaints all revolved around the concept of what is correct for a company to require when seeking a new employee.  Someone complained about a company looking for telephone sales people with the requirement that candidates can’t have a foreign accent for the targeted region.  Another protested that an employer had a requirement for specific citizenship of candidates.  Someone else didn’t agree that a university degree should be required.  Or, that candidates must live in the center of the country in order to be considered for the job in Tel Aviv.

Yes, there are laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace and recruitment process.  But such rules are not mutually exclusive with allowing a company the flexibility to decide for themselves what the suitable profile is for its candidates. 

I think job seekers would do themselves a favor by trying to imagine themselves in the HR manager’s shoes, in Israel in the year 2014.  Today it is still a buyer’s market – companies have confidence that if they wait, they will find the person that they seek, and generally don’t feel the need to be flexible in a big way.  And from what I have seen, they are correct.  Employers that have strong feelings about specific characteristics that it takes to succeed in their environment, and have the patience to wait until they find someone that matches, usually get what they want.  I have seen companies with job openings for many months, waiting for the right person to come to their attention.

If you were the HR manager of the company, I believe that you would demand to have this ability to decide.   And the chances of a job seeker changing the minds of an employer is much smaller than finding a different company that you are more suitable for, or possibly changing the way that you approach the company.

To me, the task of the job seeker when something happens that you are not expecting is to try to infer the real world situation in the market, and then take action to improve your chances, rather than ignoring the signs and continuing to rely upon faulty assumptions.

For instance:

 ·         If you looking for a job in telephone sales and mother tongue accent is an issue, identify companies that sell in your native language, and target them.  Don’t wait for them to advertise – send them your CV and use LinkedIn or other resources to start conversations with people working in the company.
·         University degrees are often times used as filters, even if they are not the most critical element in predicting the success of a candidate.  If the company has many job seekers that seem similar, and some have degrees and others don’t, then it can be a factor.  One option is to find something (truthful) to put in your education section which is meaningful.  Or, use networking to get introduced by someone trusted by the company, a way to mitigate the importance of something like a university degree.  Another approach is to focus more on job openings where a university degree is not critical.  A longer term solution, if appropriate, is to make efforts to get a degree.  There are even online options that allow the studying to be done from home.
·         The majority of jobs are in the center of the country.  No matter what your attitude is about commuting, or how far you commuted before moving to Israel, many Israeli companies want their employees to live close to the office.  They have encountered bad experiences previously with people living further away that burn out from the traveling, and as long as they have confidence that they will find someone close by that is qualified, they will stop reading a CV if the candidate lives too far away in their opinion.   Roles that are more senior are less sensitive to location, but not always immune from such considerations.  So, your options are to be open to relocating (and make sure this is clear on your CV) and/or focusing on jobs near your home (something that can be very limiting if you don’t live in the center of the country).

When you are looking for a job, you have to constantly evaluate the responses (or lack thereof) and consider whether your job target(s) and way of searching is the most appropriate for you.  If you are not making as much progress as you would like, it is a good idea to speak with others and consider new ways to move forward.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Who is worse, the job seeker that applies for a job without being qualified, or the HR/recruiter that spends 5-15 seconds reviewing a CV?

That is like asking who came first, the chicken or the egg?

I wouldn’t even attempt to address the age-old second question, but I would like to consider the first.

I am not sure how closely these facts of life are related to each other, but I do believe that in this day and age of Internet job sites, their association is an undeniable fact.

In the ideal world, job seekers would send their CV only for jobs for which they are fully qualified.  In the ideal world, recruiters/HR people would invest the time to read each CV in its entirety, in order to fully understand the capabilities of the job candidate.

Of course, in the ideal world, I would be so rich that the entire concept of job search would be irrelevant to me.

Enough of that, back to the real world…

Let’s look at this first from the HR/recruiter’s perspective (for instance, me :>).  I advertise regularly on Internet sites and social media forums for job candidates on behalf of employers.   As can be expected, I receive many CVs in response to my job postings.  At first I was surprised, but now I have become hardened to the reality that the majority of the CVs I receive are from people that do not even meet the basic requirements of the job as described in the posting.  In fact, I am convinced that many people send their CVs without reading anything but the job title.  So, what this means to me is that I need to do two phases of sorting, first to remove the completely unqualified people, and then from those remaining, to identify the most relevant for further consideration.  Certainly in this first phase of filtering, I go very fast, spending a minimal amount of time on each CV, knowing as I do that most are irrelevant anyway. 

Now, let’s consider this from the job seeker’s viewpoint.  When all you have to go on is a job posting, even in the best case, it is virtually impossible to understand exactly what the employer seeks, which “requirements” are critical and which are simply nice-to-have.  It costs virtually nothing to send a CV, neither financially nor time-wise, so it is always better to err on the side of sending and hoping for the best.  Besides, even when a CV is sent for which the job seeker feels there is a perfect match, the chance of getting a positive response from the employer hovers around the 10% range at best.

So, what we have here is a problem brought on by the nature of the medium.  I don’t mean to imply that the introduction of Internet job sites created the new situation of such a large number of CVs being sent, many not suitable.  I have no doubt that HR professionals from previous generations had the same complaints.  However, it is certainly true that when the job seeker has easy access to hundreds of jobs daily and can apply with the click of a button, the problem is exacerbated exponentially.

HR personal certainly won’t invest a great deal of time in reviewing CVs when they know the majority are irrelevant.  And job seekers have no incentive not to send their CVs as frequently as possible.

Is there a better way?

Consider this…  A general rule of thumb in the job search industry is that two-thirds of all jobs are never publically advertised.  This is generally agreed to be true worldwide.  If you stop to think about this, it seems counterintuitive.  If an employer is seeking job candidates, why wouldn’t they be advertising in as many public forums as possible?

The answer is that many companies come to the conclusion that having a recruitment process that includes filtering (via some combination of manual and automated process) large quantities of unknown people is not effective.  It doesn’t bring the results that they require, but rather a huge administrative load with a poor return-on-investment.

So, what do they do instead? 

Some may use placement agencies to do the initial filtering, meaning that candidates that are presented to the employer are only those that have been pre-filtered based upon their specific requirements.

However, informal networking (word-of-mouth) introductions play a huge part in the actual filling of these unadvertised roles.  And these entire interactions are completely hidden to those outside of the process.

One of my favorite stories told to me by a job seeker using our Israemploy website illustrates this point.  The person had seen a perfect job posting on our site, and sent in his CV as instructed.  He heard back nothing.  So, he decided to take additional action.  The company name was included in the job listing, so he used LinkedIn to find people that worked at the employer doing a job similar to his.  From LinkedIn, he introduced himself to a couple of these people, and was able to begin a conversation.  At some point in the conversation, as is not so rare, the person inside the company told the job seeker to send them his CV, and he would forward it to the HR person.  Remember, the job seeker has already sent his CV to the HR person via the job site.  Now, he takes the exact same CV, and sends it to his contact within the company.  The contact within the company takes this CV and sends it to the exact same HR person that has already received the CV via the job site.  The CV is the same, the HR person that receives it is identical; the only difference is the way that it is delivered – via a known/trusted person.  However, in this case that was the critical factor – because the internal person sent the CV to the HR person, the HR person treated it differently, and ultimately the job seeker was invited to an interview.

From this real world example, it is easy to see how networking benefits not only the employer, but also the job seeker.  This is the real (and oftentimes invisible) way that companies identify new job candidates. Job seekers must understand the significance of networking in the recruitment process, and take steps to insert themselves into the mix.  Without such awareness, the job seeker is guaranteed to be missing many job opportunities which can be perfectly suitable – and that is the biggest shame of all. 

Related Articles:

·         Not Getting Responses to E-Mail Job Applications?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Election/Job Campaigning in the Air…

The Israeli elections are over, yet we are still in the extended waiting period, without knowing what the government coalition will look like.

For those Big-Time Wrestling fans out there, it may remind you of the WWF Battle Royals:

Everyone in the ring at the same time, and you keep fighting until there is one person left standing.  And ironically, as we are accustomed to in Israel, notice the referee in the picture that is supposed to make sure the rules are being followed is not even paying attention to the action, maybe being distracted by media with cameras in the front row as so often happens.

And by the way, anyone that is interested in this spectacle, I highly recommend the documentary/movie: I’m From Hollywood.  It will give you a better appreciation of this "sport" – you can find this Andy Kaufman movie on YouTube.

Anyway, on to employment…

You know, the new MKs in the Israeli Knesset are not so different from more traditional job seekers.  They had to go through a grueling recruitment process, being subjected to scrutiny and uncertainty, before being offered a job.  For those fortunate enough to make it into the Knesset, the natural inclination at that point might be to feel the fun has finally begun.    Plenty of press, congratulations from friends and family, and warm welcomes from veteran politicians. 

But the reality can be quite different, something that they will be reminded of many times over. 

This is of course not surprising to anyone that remembers what it is like to start a job at a new company.  Once you accept a job offer, you are generally thrust into an environment that has many unknowns, both in terms of personalities and expected behaviors.   Who will be your allies and who will be your adversaries?  For MKs, on the face of it, these distinctions are more straightforward, as those in your party are meant to be your friends, and those outside are somehow more suspect.  New employees don’t have the luxury of this pre-defined label, and must feel their way around more by trial and error.  At the end though, personal relationships based upon concrete shared objectives are generally more lasting than political party allegiance, which at least in Israel is tenuous at best.

They don’t call it office politics for nothing.  But hey, if you play your cards right, your tenure at your job will most likely be longer than most of the incoming MKs.