Networking

Building Strong Relationships

By: John Hutchins, VP of Client Services

When training new sales people or recruiters, I often harp on the importance of building relationships with both client managers and candidates.  It recently occurred to me that “building relationships” may not mean the same thing to everyone.  Some people don’t actually build what I would consider to be a relationship.  They end up building something less than that – something more like a “solid acquaintance.”  Three main elements to relationship building include: (1) direct contact; (2) altruism; and (3) time.

 

  • I don’t believe you can develop a true relationship with someone unless you have direct contact with them on a regular basis. In-person contact is the best and quickest way to begin developing a relationship, but in today’s email /social media / text driven world, I’m willing to acquiesce that in-person contact is not the only means to developing a relationship.  I do think in-person contact helps build that sense of trust that is critical to any relationship.  There is something about meeting someone in-person, eyeball to eyeball, that helps initiate and solidify the relationship.

 

  • Altruism is the second element to building relationships. This is really the difference between building a true relationship with someone or, as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, building a solid acquaintance.  Building a true relationship means approaching the other person with a sense of selflessness.  This means being truly interested in them and what is going on in their life.  It also means helping them when there won’t be anything in it for you.  Believe it or not, the best sales people have altruistic relationships with their best clients.  If it is truly a solid relationship, each person is approaching the other person in an altruistic way.  The sales person is feeling that they really want to do what is best for the client manager.  The client manager is feeling that they really want the sales person to succeed and prosper.  Sales shouldn’t be an adversarial relationship like it so often becomes, where each person is trying to get the most out of the other person, while providing the least.  In the best business relationships, each party is honestly looking out for the best interests of the other party.  Rare – yes, impossible to achieve – no.

 

  • Finally, as I’ve learned firsthand over many years, time is an essential element to many things in life, including relationship building. Time is necessary for building trust and a major aspect of trust is stability.  You can’t have a solid relationship with someone who isn’t willing to have direct contact with you on a regular basis or who is altruistic one moment and selfish the next.  Stability over time builds trust and trust is one key to building solid relationships.

 

I would love to provide short cuts and silver bullets to my new sales people and recruiters when it comes to relationship building, but unfortunately short cuts and silver bullets are in the same category as unicorns and dragons, they don’t exist.  Success requires purposeful and consistent hard work.  With regard to relationship building, that means direct contact, altruism and time.

The Power of Networking

By: John Hutchins, Vice President of Client Services.

 

If you know me, you know that I love to network and I encourage everyone else to network – whether you are selling, recruiting, looking for a job, or whatever – networking is never a bad thing!  You never know where it will lead or what it will turn into.

The other day I was training a junior sales person.  She was shadowing me on a sales call with a client manager I had never met before.  She asked the question, “How did you connect with this person?”  As I thought about my answer, I began to laugh.  The seeds for the meeting in April 2016 were planted back in 2001.

One night in 2001, my wife and I invited some new neighbors (Cheryl and Dan) over for a friendly game of cards and a few beers.  I learned that Cheryl was an administrative assistant at a small insurance company.  She agreed to introduce me to the CIO of her company (Tim).  I met with Tim a couple of times and he introduced me to his manager of software development (James).  Shortly thereafter Tim was laid off, but luckily I had developed a good relationship with James.

James ended up hiring a bunch of contractors from me over the next two years.  I was meeting one of those contractors (Martha) for lunch and asked her what her husband did for a living.  Lucky me!  Her husband (Karl) was an IT manager for a government contractor.  She agreed to introduce me.  I met with Karl who introduced me to their manager of software development (Bob).  Shortly thereafter Karl left the company, but luckily I had developed a good relationship with Bob.

Bob and his team ended up hiring more than three dozen contractors from me over the next few years.  After a while, Bob and I got to be friends.  The other day I was having lunch with Bob and he asked if I would be willing to network with his wife’s, sister’s husband (Brent).  Being the networking addict that I am, I readily agreed.

Brent and I met for coffee a couple of times.  He had been laid off from his job as a CTO and was looking for a new gig.  I was able to introduce him to a few people, but unfortunately wasn’t able to directly help him find a job.  Looking for a new job, especially when you’re unemployed, can be mentally and emotionally exhausting.  I experienced it many years ago when I was changing careers and swore to myself that I would always be open to helping others.

Brent ended up landing a job.  We met for coffee after he got situated and he offered to introduce me to the software development manager at his new company (Susan).  You guessed it, Susan is the manager, the junior sales person and I were scheduled to meet in April 2016.  The meeting went really well, by the way.  I’m looking forward to how it turns out and who I’ll meet as a result.

What a crazy, wonderful world full of possible networking opportunities we live in!

How To Overcome Computer Screening And Get The Job!

By: John Hutchins, Quantix Vice President, Client Services

Computer screening of candidates is here to stay, whether we like it or not. Convincing large corporations do away with the perceived efficiencies and cost savings is as daunting as trying to “put toothpaste back in the tube,” as mentioned by my colleague. Or to use yet another analogy, it’s like trying to swallow an elephant whole. I, however, am here to tell you there is hope!

You can put the toothpaste back in that tube – all it takes is time and creativity. You can eat a whole elephant – it takes time and you’ll need to cut it into bite sized pieces – but you can do it! Likewise, it may take extra time and creativity, but there are things you can do in your job search to help you overcome the disadvantages inadvertently created by the overuse of computer screening.

Image Credit: Sylva Acupuncture & Wellness

Image Credit: Sylva Acupuncture & Wellness

  • Don’t rely on job boards. Relying on the job boards almost guarantees you’ll go into the black hole of computer screening. Job boards are a great place to do research on what types of positions are available at a particular company, but are a terrible place to actually get a job. Identify companies you’re interested in, research them on the job boards and then network.
  • Network. If you don’t have a network, now would be a great time to start creating one. Networking is the best way to get a job. LinkedIn is a great networking tool for both staying in contact with people and for finding connections into that company you identified. Ask them out for coffee and pick their brain about your target companies. They may know someone. 
  • Pick up the phone. Email is overused and easy to ignore or delete. When reaching out to people in your network or hiring managers, don’t over-rely on email. Pick up the phone and call the person. You’ll likely get voicemail, but that gives you the opportunity to both leave a message and then send an email. Be persistent – if they don’t respond after three days, try them again. Persistence is required and usually rewarded.
  • Treat your resume like a proposal. When submitting your resume, tailor it to the position for which you are applying. Use their terminology and highlight those skills and experiences that apply to the job. This means taking some extra time and rewriting portions of your resume each time you apply for a position. It will go a long way to helping you stand out from the crowd and may help you successfully navigate the computer screening problem.
  • Go old school – send handwritten thank you cards. After meeting or interviewing with someone, send them an old fashioned handwritten thank you card. Again, email is overused and easy to ignore or delete. A handwritten thank you card will get you noticed.
  • Celebrate small victories. Finding a job can be exhausting and frustrating. Whether you like it or not, you have become a sales person and you are selling yourself. Successful sales people celebrate the small victories to help keep motivated. Break down the job hunting process into small steps and celebrate along the way.

The impersonal nature of computer screening is annoying, but think of it as an opportunity to set yourself apart. While all those other candidates are unwittingly wasting their time submitting resumes through job boards, you’re meeting people and making progress towards finding that perfect job. It may feel like you’re trying to put toothpaste back in the tube, or swallow an elephant whole, but you can do it!

 

What You’re Doing Wrong In Your Job Search – Part I

By: Elias Cobb, Quantix Recruiting Manager

This will be the first installment in addressing some of the glaring deficiencies in so many job searches I see candidates conducting. This part will address finding the open jobs and sending in resumes.

So you’ve been looking for a new job. Maybe it’s because you’re out of work, or maybe it’s because you don’t like your current job. And you’ve had some interviews, but not as many as you’d like. What’s wrong? Well, employers ARE being very selective these days; as selective as I’ve ever seen. It’s understandable; the costs of a bad hire are very, very high, and no manager needs that on their record. Here are some tips – and yes, all of these come from actual experience (resumes and job search strategies) I have seen in my 14-year recruiting career.

1) You’re only utilizing one method to find open jobs. 

Yes, I know…everyone says networking with your peers and friends is the best way to find a job. I do agree. However, I wouldn’t have had a job for the last 14 years and the IT staffing industry wouldn’t exist if you couldn’t get a job using a recruiter or on a job board. Just don’t ONLY use job boards or recruiters. You have to do all three things, and more, to find that great job. In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, I also recommend joining pertinent networking groups (both online and in-person) and calling in to companies for whom you’d like to work. There are forward-thinking companies that will make hires if they find the right person, even if a job isn’t “officially” open. One way of finding good in-person networking groups is Meetup.com. It’s not just for meeting singles or joining a book club. There are a lot of excellent job-related and skill-related meet-ups.

2) You’re sending the same old, tired resume for every job.

Your resume needs to speak to each job individually. Managers are combing through resumes, not only for grammar and spelling errors, but to make sure the skills they need are reflected on the resume. You probably can’t get every skill you have

Image Credit: AlleyWatch

Image Credit: AlleyWatch

on your “standard” resume, so make sure you look over the job description very closely, and make sure ALL OF YOUR RESUME aligns with it. That means your objective, your skills summary and your work experience section. Just adding a couple of keywords to your skills summary isn’t good enough. I also recommend a “Selected Achievements” section where you can point out some of the ways in which you have gone above and beyond or spearheaded (or participated on) a project that was high-profile or saved/earned your employer money.

3) Your resume doesn’t show the hiring manager how you will make the company more profitable and his/her job easier.

Just showing that you have all the skills the job description lists isn’t enough. You need to demonstrate why you’re the best choice within all the candidates who also have those skills. This means highlighting projects with which you saved an employer money, projects where you took initiative, ways in which you are constantly striving to better your skills, etc. This can be by taking additional classes, going for certifications, showing career growth at an employer, volunteering in a relevant field and more.  For software developers, for example, there are open source projects online that you can participate in. This shows your employer that you have a passion and drive for your job and that you take the time outside of work to hone your craft. 

4) You aren’t doing your homework.

I’ll address this as it pertains to interviews in a future post, but it also applies to finding the job openings and applying. First of all, you need to keep a close eye on the business news. There will be mentions of companies expanding, opening new offices, getting new rounds of funding, etc., and those are the companies you want to target. Don’t wait for a job posting. Look them up on the Internet and on LinkedIn and find some hiring managers and call them directly! This shows drive and initiative right from the start. Secondly, many open jobs never see the “light of day,” meaning there’s never an actual job posting on the Internet. Managers have a need, they mention it to their team, they get a referral and make a hire. If you’re looking for a job, make sure you talk with everyone you know and make sure they understand what you do and why they would want to recommend you to their boss. Additionally, many jobs go to recruiting agencies and might be on a corporate website, but are never out there for easy access. That means also cultivating a relationship with a few recruiters whom you trust. Make sure they always share the client name with you and take the time to get to know you and your skills and what kinds of jobs and companies you are targeting. And finally, so many people do all the upfront work, but then never adjust their resume to reflect the company’s business, industry or culture. This should be reflected in your resume’s objective, but also in your employment history – talk about any relevant experience you have to that particular company’s line of business or industry.

I guess the bottom line with all of these points is that too many people are simply lazy in their job search. They don’t want to do the legwork up front with networking, doing research and making calls, and they don’t want to take 30 minutes to tailor a resume to a job. So if you really want to make an impression and maximize your opportunities, don’t be lazy!

Job Search Challenge For IT Executives

By: John Hutchins, Quantix Vice President, Client Services 

Unemployment among information technology (IT) professionals is extremely low. In the IT staffing business, it is reminiscent of 1998 and 1999 in terms of there being plentiful job orders, but a scarcity of talent. Unfortunately, unemployed IT executives are still having a difficult time finding their next management position. Why is this? And, more importantly, how does an IT executive find a job?

IT executives have trouble finding a job, even in a hot IT job market, for a variety of reasons with the biggest reason probably being the evolution of the IT industry itself. In the 1990’s and even into the early 2000’s, IT was separate from business. Today, it is an integral part of every business, every sector, every industry. It used to be that IT executives came up through the technical ranks, starting their careers as developers or in infrastructure support. Today, every MBA program includes a significant technology training component to their curriculum. As a result, nearly every graduate is technology savvy and, in theory, capable of moving into an IT executive role. Add to this the fact that most employed business executives, even if they graduated decades ago, have been forced to add technology to their repertoire. With the increased pool of viable IT executive candidates, it can be very difficult to set yourself apart from the crowd and get that interview, let alone that job.

The IT industry has evolved, but for IT executives, finding a job means returning to the tried and true methods of yesteryear. Technology has made it easier to apply for jobs, but it also has made it much easier for recruiters and human resource professionals to screen out candidates. Since IT executives are soft skills focused, rather than hard skills focused, as an IT executive it is nearly impossible to set yourself apart from the crowd using merely a resume and the Internet. You need to get out there, shake some hands, kiss some babies – you need to network! 

Image Credit: Degroote

Image Credit: McMaster University

Don’t waste your time submitting resumes via the job boards or applying through a corporate website. Instead spend your time improving your network. Get out there and meet people. Begin by meeting with former coworkers, vendors and business associates. Ask for suggestions on other people you should meet and then meet with those people. Along the way, broadcast your experience and your employment goals. Develop a target list of possible employers. Send periodic emails to your growing network, asking for introductions or leads into these companies. It takes time, but eventually you will hear about opportunities before they’re posted on job boards. Instead of being part of the crowd, you’ll be an insider. Even better, a position may be created with you in mind!

Technology maybe the basis of your previous success, but don’t lull yourself into a false sense of job search productivity if all you’re doing is applying to jobs on the Internet. Use your creativity, as well as those leadership and communication skills you’ve so carefully honed over the years to find your next successful position.