Pandemic Job Searching with @LRuettimann and @CamSackett

I’ve been exceptionally fortunate in my career to find friends and mentors willing to give me their time and resources to help me succeed. One of those people who help support me when I first started writing is Laurie Ruettimann.

I tease her a lot and frequently call her HR’s Big Sister because she helps so many people! When you write, speak, have a successful podcast like she does you tend to get a lot of people reaching out for advice and Laurie finds time to help out so many folks.

Today, she’s helping out my son Cameron, who is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, and in the middle of his first ‘real’ job search. Enjoy their podcast together!

Resources from this episode:

Cameron on LinkedIn

HR Famous Podcast

Laurie on Instagram

Laurie on LinkedIn

Read more from Laurie

Work with Laurie

 

COVID Career Pivots – The One Thing You Need to Know!

On a daily basis, I get messages from folks who are ready to make a pivot in their career, and with so many folks losing their job because of COVID the amount looking to pivot seems to be increasing. Career pivots aren’t a new thing. On average people change jobs like 358 times during their career or something like that.

Here’s how that conversation normally goes when I have a conversation with a friend who’s deciding on a pivot:

Friend of the Project: Tim! So, I lost my job (or I hate my job) and I’ve always wanted to be a Professional Puppy Petter!

Me: OMG! Me Too! I love puppies! So awesome!

FOP: Okay, so I’m currently making low six figures, like $127,350. And while I know I won’t make that same amount in my pivot profession, I still need to make $127,300. What advice do you have for me to become a Professional Puppy Petter?

Me: Don’t.

FOP: Haha! No seriously, petty puppies are my passion! I’ll do whatever it takes!

Me: You have to be prepared to take a pay cut of at least 99% (in reality, for most career pivots, it’s probably 30-40%).

The reality is, most of the actual examples are people asking me how to get into HR. They are usually coming from a sales job or management job where they are making $65-85K. Some even have an HR degree, but little or no experience.

That’s awesome. I love HR! But, you have to be ready and prepared for an offer around $40-45K for your first HR job, depending on the market. That means you need to adjust your lifestyle to make that career pivot. I find about 1 out of 25 people are willing to make that adjustment.

When I first jumped from agency recruiting to HR I took a 65% cut in pay to move into straight corporate HR. I actually lied about how much I was making because it was probably double what my new corporate boss was making. They never would have hired me knowing they were making me an offer so low from I was currently at. But, I truly wanted to make that pivot!

Career pivots take major sacrifice, but often they are worth it if you find a career doing something you truly care about. It’s easier to pivot at the beginning or end of your career. You have less to lose. When you are mid-career with a house payment and kids and a dog, career pivots are almost impossible, without major adjustments to lifestyle.

The one thing you need to know…

Career pivots have less to do with your ability to do the new job and everything to do with your willingness to take a major step back in life comforts.

Good luck out there my friends!

Interview Pro Tips: The “You” Show!

A bunch of folks have been doing some work at home or furloughed at home, or some laid off at home over the past few months. Depending on your situation I’ve been hearing more and more from people who are out interviewing for the first time in a long time and looking for advice.

JDP did a survey recently and found out that the average candidate preps for 7 hours to prepare for an interview! I’m not sure I buy into that piece of data, it seems like there might be a bit of exaggeration going on from candidates who want to make you believe they actually did way more than they actually do.

Let’s be honest, you looking at a companies website and reading reviews on Glassdoor doesn’t take you seven hours. It probably takes you about 30 minutes, and I would bet my career on the fact that is about 99% prep that happens for most candidates.

How should you prepare for an interview? 

There are two types of candidates I see in an interview. The first type just lets the interview happen to them. They basically react. I’m here, you have questions, let’s see how this turns out.

The second type of candidate, which is much rarer, come prepared to put on a show. I’ll call it the “You” Show! This candidate comes in and has prepared to show you why they are the person for this position. They risk that you might be the type of person who won’t like this, but more times than not I find leaders are actually impressed by these candidates.

What does the “You” Show script include?

It starts off with an introduction that includes a good story that will instantly get those in the room on your side. It might be funny, might be inspirational, but it was definitely planned and prepared. Anywhere from three to five minutes of this is who I am and why I’m unique, and why you should like me.

The You Show candidates have also prepped by doing research on those who will interview them. They probably know more about the people interviewing them, then the people interviewing know about you as the candidate. They’ll stalk your LinkedIn profile, your social footprint, Google name search, people from my school who work there, etc. I want to know my audience if I’m putting on a show, so I at least have a chance to producing a show they’ll like.

If I have one hour, planned, for the interview, I want them to hear 55 minutes of me, and very little from them. I want them leaving that room, call, video conference being wowed! Being of the mindset that we really don’t need to interview any longer, since we just found the person.

The “You” Show is probably an exaggeration of your true self. Kind of like, “Hey, this is the best me” and while I might not be this person every minute of every day, when you get the best of me, this is what you can expect. The “You” Show is high-energy, fully caffeinated, I’m going to energize you and when I leave you’ll feel better about yourself.

As you get ready for your next interview ask yourself if you would want to watch you do that interview. If your answer is “no”, it will probably be “no” from those interviewing you as well.

The Single Biggest Factor in Finding Your Dream Job!

I’ve been given the opportunity to speak to a number of high school and college graduating seniors. The one common question from both groups, I get frequently, is “how can I get my dream job?”  It’s a simple question, with about one million possible answers.  Which makes it a tough question to answer in front of a group.

I think I might have found the perfect answer to this question.  From Penn State football coach, James Franklin, when asked at a conference how does a graduate assistant move up in the college football coaching ranks:

“It comes down to people and opportunities for growth. I always tell people to stay broke for as long as possible.  When you have a car payment and other things like that, it becomes a factor. Keeping money out of it allows you to chase your dreams longer.”

Stay broke as long as possible.

Internet personality, Gary Vaynerchuk (Gary Vee), says basically the same thing when people ask him how they work at something they just love to do. He will tell them you need to then live the lifestyle that affords you the ability to do what you love. If you love to pet puppies all day, you can’t live in a mansion! You’ll probably live in a box.

But, if that’s truly your passion in life, then that’s what you need to do to make it happen. What he finds is people who are willing to lower their lifestyle to do what they love are usually the ones who end up making money doing what they love. The theory being they found a way to live doing what they love, and little by little, they’ll find a way to make money doing what they love. Most people are unwilling to change their lifestyle to do what they love.

I remember back to when I first got out of college and was making $20,000 at my first job.  The reality was, I could have gone almost anywhere and made $20,000.  The money wasn’t the draw of the position, the opportunity was.  If it wasn’t for me, I could go and try something else. I had a crappy car and a $400 per month apartment. I didn’t have life obligations that were going to stop me from chasing a dream.

Fast forward five years and now I have a new car, a new house, and a new kid.  Chasing a dream would be much more difficult.

You hear it all the time, chasing dreams is for the young. Not because the young necessarily have better dreams or are better equipped at chasing dreams, it’s because the young can ‘afford’ to chase their dreams.  They, usually, have little holding them back, financially.  The older you get, the more responsibilities you have and the larger tax bracket you’re usually in.

Leaving a $20,000 job to chase my dream wasn’t going to be a problem. Leaving a $100,000 job to chase my dream was going to be a problem.

No one really wants to tell you this in their ultra-motivational writings and speakings.  “Go chase your dream! Don’t let anything or anyone stop you!… Just be prepared to have nothing for a while!”

We never get to hear that last part.

Want to be an NFL Referee? It’s a great gig! You just have to put about 15-20 years in at being a referee at every other level where you make peanuts and have to work other jobs to make ends meet. Yes, you can get there.  No, you won’t get rich getting there.

You can definitely go out and work towards getting your dream job.   Being broke will help you with that.  It takes away the fear of failure and losing what you have.  If you have very little, losing it doesn’t seem as bad.  If you have a nice life, giving it all up, seems extremely hard.

Being broke, in a very ironic way, gives you more options, when it comes to a dream job!

Are We Still Pissy About Unpaid Internships?

Back in the height of the Great Recession (think 2008-2010), when we had double-digit national unemployment numbers. It was dark times, especially for those students who were graduating and those trying to get internships.

Most organizations in hard times cut internship programs. It’s not that they are not important to recruiting, it’s just the ROI drops as unemployment numbers rise. If you have a lot of candidates, it’s tough to spend valuable resources on interns who aren’t really adding much value, if any, to most organizations.

Internships, at its core, is mostly a one-way proposition on the front side. We hire you to get experience. We pay you. We hope you’ll come back and take one of our open jobs and in the future help us be successful. It usually works out, but it’s not a guarantee. In hard times, “not a guarantee” is a hard budget item to get approved!

During the Great Recession the idea of offering “Free Internships” was being used by many organizations and a lot of people lost their minds!

“You have to pay people for the job they do!” “All Interns should be paid fairly!”

Basically, this all went away pretty quickly because the economy took off and we got to the point where we weren’t just paying interns, we were competing for interns and developing all kinds of programs and incentives for interns because talent was so scarce.

The argument wasn’t really solved, it just disappeared because it was no longer relevant. Well, say hello to my little friend! The Free Internship concept is back! Thanks, COVID!

Let’s talk a little bit about our current internship situation!

  • Most organizations have canceled internships for this summer. There will be significantly fewer internships for the summer of 2021, as compared to summer 2019
  • As unemployment rises and layoffs grow, more will cancel these programs.
  • New graduates who can’t find jobs, need experiences to build their resumes.

Should we offer Unpaid Internships? 

YES!!! 1000% YES!!!

Now, let me explain. If you can afford to pay your interns, but be a dick and not pay them! If you can’t afford to pay interns, but you can afford to give students and graduates valuable experiences, give them those experiences!!!

I never understood the argument that you must pay interns for their time. I did student teaching as part of my undergrad degree. I worked a full semester as a teacher and I paid full tuition and never got a dollar for that work! My wife is a Physical Therapist and she did many practicums (medical internships) where she had to pay for school, work full time without pay. Many professions have this happening.

We turn a blind eye to these examples and just believe it’s part of getting that degree, but it’s truly no difference. The reality is, the experience you get, the ability to put that brand on your resume and have a professional reference is very valuable. So, working for free almost always works out for the best for those who take on those experiences and give it there all.

For the record, I have paid my interns. I will pay my interns this year. But, I can’t tell you I’ll always be able to pay interns. At that point, I have a decision to make. Not have interns, which only hurts those kids who need an internship, or have unpaid interns. I’m completely comfortable having unpaid interns, as I know the value it gives those individuals.

I’ve gotten questions recently about unpaid internships, as I hear so many people canceling their internships for this summer. “Can we have an intern work remotely and be unpaid?” Well, it’s not officially an employee, but if you want to “mentor” a student, and that student what’s your mentorship, nothing is stopping you from helping that person out!

Understand, if you aren’t going to pay someone, you get what you pay for. But, I also truly believe that a student who says, “Hey, I can give you twenty hours per week to learn the business” we have a moral obligation to help these students out in a time of crisis!

Okay, hate me in the comments – but we need to be open to Unpaid Internships!

The Top 4 Recruiter Lies We Tell Candidates!

The world quickly turned from a candidate-driven market to a company driven market, meaning for the first time in about a decade Recruiters will have the power. Now, as a candidate, you might have always felt that recruiters had the power, but you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen a recruiter in full “I’ve got the power” mode!

I was thinking about this and wanted to share some of the top Recruiter Lies so candidates could spot them, and while you probably can’t call them out, spotting a recruiter lie will help you strategically begin to work on another way to get the response you need:

Send Us Your Resume, Even Though We Don’t Have a Job Lie – I would say this is a ‘semi-lie’. While the recruiter might not have the opening currently, they’re asking for a resume because they frequently have those openings and they never know when one is coming. The recruiter, though, is wrong by not telling you this upfront, so you know what to expect.

The Hiring Manager Hasn’t Gotten Back To Me Lie – This is a lie and not a lie,  potentially! For Corporate Recruiters this is a lie or lazy, I’ll let you pick. If you’re a corporate recruiter and tell the candidate that the hiring manager hasn’t gotten back to you get your butt up from your desk and walk over to the hiring manager’s desk! If they’re in a different location and won’t get back to you, then you have an influence problem you need to work on. Agency-wise it’s the one frustrating things recruiters have to deal with. Hiring Managers will get to ‘us’ when they feel like it, and usually after they’ve exhausted every other opportunity internally to fill the position.

The Never Call Back the Candidate Lie – this really isn’t a lie but this happens all the time!  For the sake of Recruiters everywhere if you do this please quit this profession! We (all Recruiters) Hate you as well. You give all of us a bad name. It takes 10 seconds to call back a candidate you spoke to a job about, and tell them “Sorry, you were not chosen and stay in touch, or don’t call me again, etc.” 10 seconds!

The You Didn’t Score High Enough On The Assessment Lie The company you’re trying to get into might actually have cut-off scores they’ve established and the lie comes into play when a hiring manager presents someone they’ve worked with previously and that person scores the same as you but they still get the job. If they really like you, the assessment wouldn’t stop them from hiring you.

The We’ve Decided To Go Another Direction Lie – This comes along with the ‘We really liked you, but” Lie.  This is Recruiter training 10, to not get yourself into trouble when telling a candidate they didn’t get the job we give them a reason that legally can never come back and bite you in the butt. “We really, really, really liked but have decided to not fill the position.” Two weeks later a job posting comes out that seems very similar but with a title change and a few description changes. They didn’t like you.

What’s the biggest reason Recruiters lie? 

They have major conflict-avoidance and are not willing to tell you the truth, which is usually there is something wrong with you based on what they are looking for and don’t want to hurt your feelings.  Unfortunately, many candidates would actually be helped by a little Recruiter honesty but recruiters are afraid of candidates who get told the truth and then get charges from the EEOC, other state or federal agencies, or just get flat out sued.  Candidates have a hard time with feedback like, “you’re really creepy”, “you’re annoying” or “your personality is grating”.  So, the lies come into play because Recruiters have found Lies are easier than the truth.

Reader Question: Can I negotiate my offer during the COVID Pandemic?

So, we like to think that no one is hiring right now, or the only people hiring are Amazon, Grubhub, hospitals, etc. The reality is, even in the worse economy, a lot of stuff still needs to happen.

Many organizations are finding out they can still get a bunch of their work done with folks at home, and collaborating in new ways, and the learning curve is steep, but everyone is working together to figure it out.

I had a call this past week from a soon to be college graduate, dual major, Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering from a great school, so it makes sense he already has an offer. He had some questions for me. He was excited, of course, and understood that he was the exception right now, not the rule. With historic unemployment, companies are still going to want him!

One of the questions he had was where and how do you negotiate during a crisis situation like this. The company that offered him the job, was also laying employees off! Not the best environment to play hardball negotiator! Plus, his school had stopped all career fairs, etc. So, he didn’t have a traditional route many college students would have in normal times to connect with some other employers.

Can I, and should I, negotiate my offer during this COVID crisis? 

My answer:

You can negotiate anytime you feel you need to, but having the political savviness to understand the situation and current timing might work for you best long term if you don’t right now.

That being said, here’s how I would negotiate right now! First, you have to play this very coy. You, and the person making the offer, both know the dire straights going on right now, especially when employees are being laid off, but they’re making you an offer.

There are two things I might try if you feel like you can play this very soft. First, you still have a semester left of school, you could politely ask if they have any kind of tuition assistance and would they be willing to help you out during this last semester? The other ask could be for a signing bonus, to be paid upon start, which is later in the year, but good to negotiate now.

There is little risk they will pull the offer because you are trying to negotiate, and if you play it right you will come out looking fine, no matter the outcome. The other option is to just wait until your actual start date in December and then ask for a sign-on bonus at that point, or as you get close to starting, make the call and say something like, “Hey, I’ve got some friends who have accepted at other companies and they are all getting some sort of sign-on bonus, is this something I can get as well?”

You will learn a few things in this process:

  1. You don’t get what you don’t ask for, but timing can be everything in terms of when you ask.
  2. You are the only person managing your career. If you wait for a company to do it, you’ll miss out on a lot. Manage your own career.
  3. The job offer is contingent on them actually needing you when it comes time for you to start. It’s not a guarantee the employer will need you, so you don’t need to act like you’re signing a guaranteed contract. Things can and will happen between now and December.
  4. Know your value. Just because it sucks for everyone else, doesn’t mean it sucks for you.

What do you think? Should you negotiate in trying times?

 

College Students: Are you adding your side-hustle to your resume!?

I got killed a few weeks ago by some trolls on Twitter over posting this tweet:

I get that many people need to work side hustles to make ends meet in today’s world. I wasn’t talking about these folks working their butts off to make ends meet. I myself work side hustles.

In today’s #outrage culture, this tweet was seen as insensitive by some folks who spend way too much time on Twitter and not enough time on their professional role! Also, I’m clearly not Gary Vaynerchuk, the king of hustle porn, who could tweet this exact tweet and get 5 million likes before the end of the day!

Turns out, Recruiters are now encouraging college students to put their side hustles on their resume and profiles. Why? Because employers actually really like candidates who aren’t afraid to work! It’s the #1 thing that executives tell me when we talk about their pain points around hiring. “Tim, we just need people who want to work!”

So, what are the top side hustles you should be adding onto your resume and profiles? The folks at The Knowledge Academy did a survey and found these were the most popular:

  • 85% of US recruiters recommend those college students who buy items from garage sales and then sell them online for a higher price, to include it on their resume/job applications
  • 67% of US recruiters believe college students that create/modify products to sell online, should have it on their resume/job applications
  • 60% of US recruiters think college students who offer photography services for hire, encourage stating it on their resume/job applications

I really think as a candidate, any skill you believe adds to your overall value as an employee should be something you add to your resume and/or profile, but just know that some HR/Talent/Hiring Managers will look at this in different ways. If you’re an engineer and you’re also driving for a ride share service, you probably need to explain why the full-time gig isn’t enough. “I’m also supplementing my income with weekend and evening ride share to help pay off my student loans quicker!”

The survey found that –52% of recruiters feel companies who know an employee has a growing ‘side hustle’ should take an active approach to support them (i.e. offering flexible working hours). Um, what!? So, Mary is our accountant and we love her, but she also has a growing cupcake business on the side and I should give her time off to go do that and not fulfill her duties in a full-time role? I’m not sure I 100% can buy into this philosophy from a business standpoint!

I would probably go back to that employee and ask them if they started their own business, like this side hustle, and had to hire folks, who then wanted to not work their ‘real’ job, but put more time and effort towards their own thing, how would that sit with them? I already know the answer. They want and need workers who are committed and get their jobs done like everyone else.

It’s definitely a different world we live in. Side hustles become full-time hustles for so many folks. I definitely see this when someone is working a full-time gig that they hate, and a side hustle that they love. Like Gary V would say, you need to then adjust your lifestyle to fit your side hustle, and not your full-time gig if that’s what you desire to do. What you can’t do is think just because you love petting puppies, doesn’t mean you can do it full-time without giving up some stuff. It’s hard to make those Tesla payments on a puppy petter salary!

Should You Be Promoted Every 3 Years?

If you didn’t catch it this week, a job board executive came out with how often you should be promoted early in your career. Basically, he said it should be every three years. Do you agree?

Early-career employees should aim to get a promotion around every three years, according to Ian Siegel, CEO of ZipRecruiter. “If you aren’t moving up after three years, there is a problem,” he said.
Let’s say you start your new job right out of college at 22 years old.
First job title (Individual Contributor): HR Generalist 
Second job title at 25 years old: Senior HR Generalist
Third job title at 28 years old: HR Manager 
Fourth job title at 31 years old: Senior HR Manager
Fifth job title at 34: HR Director 
Sixth job title at 37: Sr. HR Director 
Seventh job title at 41: Vice President of HR
I’ve told this story before but I had a goal coming out of college that I wanted to be a Vice President by 35 years old. I spent the early part of my career chasing titles. I became a Vice President at 38. Upon becoming a VP at 38 I immediately realized it didn’t matter at all!
Titles are organizational-size specific. If you work for a 250 person company (or a bank or a startup) becoming a VP of whatever probably isn’t too hard. If you work for a company that has 25,000 employees becoming a VP is going to take some time. Also, are you really a Vice President when you have 2 direct reports, or when you are responsible for an organization of hundreds or thousands?
The reality is titles are basically meaningless to everyone except yourself.
I think Ian’s math actually works out for large organizations. If you start working for large companies, the three-year promotional cycle probably works out in most normal economic environments for above average performers who meet the following criteria:
  1. Have the desire to continually move up.
  2. Have the ability and desire o relocate.
  3. Have a specialized skill-set or education.
  4. Have a willingness to go cross-functional and learn all parts of the business.
  5. Have the ability to play the political game.

You don’t get promoted for just showing up and doing the job you were hired to do. Every idiot in the company can do that. Showing up doesn’t make you promotable.

There are probably a few things that can help you move up faster that I think most upwardly mobile professionals don’t know. You need to make your boss know that you want to move up and you’re willing to work with them to make that happen. Working with them doesn’t mean trying to push them out, it means you will work to push them up.

You need to have a developmental plan that your boss, and maybe the boss above them, has signed off on. This plan is your responsibility, not their responsibility. If you think it’s your bosses responsibility to make your development plan and push for your promotion, you’re not someone who should be promoted. Own your own development, with their guidance.

Understand that three years in an average. You will be promoted sometimes in six months and sometimes in six years. In some career paths you’ll be promoted three times in three years, but then not again for nine. The right amount of patience is critical in getting promoted. One of the biggest mistakes I made in my career was jumping companies for a title because I thought my current boss wasn’t going anywhere and three months after I left he was promoted and told me I was in line to take his spot. I loved that job! I had no patience.

Being promoted has nothing to do with time and everything to do with you putting yourself in a position to be promoted.