Category Archives: Tool Box
You’ve made it to the end of your job search and you’ve managed to receive at least one offer. Perhaps you’ve even received two or more offers, giving you the opportunity to negotiate and truly make a decision about what is best for you and your future.
So many people mistakenly think that this is the end of the line. You do the deep reflection required to understand what you want, what kind of environment you need in order to thrive, and you make it happen for yourself. You get the offer and you can just sit back and put things in cruise control, right?
Eh, not so much. The problem with this whole thought process is the fact that it assumes receiving the offer means the hard work is done. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. In all reality, receiving an offer or offers is just the beginning of the truly hard process of making a final decision. Sometimes, you will have learned during the interview process that a particular employer simply isn’t for you. Other times you’ll simply have multiple offers on the table and you’ll use your ideal job description to determine what fits best. And then you have to make the final call.
Eventually you’ll have to accept an offer, which is an incredibly exciting event in your life and career. However, what most people forget at this point is that the offers you’re turning down came from somewhere. Those employers are waiting to hear back from you, and it would be incredibly unprofessional to leave them hanging. Not to mention the incredible damage it would do to your personal brand.
So, after you make the decision about which offer to accept and which offer(s) to leave behind,it’s in your best interest to do everything you can to maintain the relationships all around. By taking this approach, you can build your personal brand in the eyes of the professionals rather than burning bridges that would be incredibly hard to rebuild.
With that context, let’s dive in.
Deciding to Accept or Decline
You should be accepting for one of two reasons:
- You received an initial offer that met all of your needs with a company and in a role that meets the criteria you laid out in your ideal job description.
- You effectively negotiated for the terms you needed from the offer.
You should be declining for one of three reasons:
- You received an offer after learning during the interview process that the organization was not the right place for you.
- You received an offer that had too many aspects that didn’t meet your ideal job description.
- You attempted to negotiate for the terms you needed from the offer and were either unsuccessful, or the organization was not open to negotiations.
How To Accept an Offer
Based on these terms, let’s cover how to accept an offer first. At a high level, you want to accept the offer both verbally and on paper. It is also a good idea to inform each of the individuals you have interacted with during the interview process in addition to signing and submitting your formal offer letter.
At the most basic level, you will want to sign the offer letter that contains the most up to date terms of employment based on any negotiations you may have done. Do not sign an offer that does not include the up to date information that reflects your negotiations. If you did not negotiate, you can sign the offer letter you first received.
In addition, you should call your main point of contact to tell them you have accepted your offer and that they can expect it in the mail. When you speak to them, say something like the following:
“Hi, [name], this is [your name] and I am calling to formally accept my offer to join [organization name]. I have signed and mailed/emailed my offer letter and you can expect to receive it within the week. Is there anything else I need to do to help you move the process along at this point?”
They will give a response that reflects their excitement and desire to have you join the team. Hopefully they will give you plenty of detail to appropriately set your expectations, but you cannot rely on that. If they don’t give you any details, then you should ask:
“What can I expect from the overall onboarding process, and when should I expect to hear from you next?”
Now you have accepted the offer (congratulations!), you’ve told the person who needs to know, and you know what to expect next. The next thing to do is to inform anyone else who has played a part in your hiring process at the organization. If any particular professionals have played a particularly large role by helping answer your questions, negotiate your offer, or recommending you to the job in the first place, I would recommend giving them a call and sending a thank you note.
Let them know that you have accepted and that you appreciate their help along the way. In your thank you letter, include something like the following:
I am excited to tell you that I have accepted my offer to join [organization name] as a [role name]. Without your help during the recruitment and hiring process, I would not have had such a great experience or learned so much about the company.
Thank you very much for your guidance and support, and I look forward to working with you in the future.
All the best,
Your phone call should express similar thoughts. Always be sure to personalize the conversation based on your experience and relationship with the individual. Anyone that played more of a minor role in your hiring process deserves an email informing them that you’ve accepted as well. The basic elements of your email should include:
- Thanking them for their help during the process
- Informing them that you have accepted your offer
- Stating your excitement to join the organization
- Asking for any advice or next steps you should take to prepare to join the organization
You can use the script above, or you can create a custom email template that includes each of the elements above. Always be sure to edit and proofread. Once you accept your offer, it’s the beginning of your career, which means it’s time to continue building your personal brand and professional relationships.
How To Decline an Offer
While accepting an offer will be a great feeling, declining an offer can be a bit less fun. However, declining an offer is an excellent opportunity to build your personal brand and maintain relationships with the people in the organization. There are two different ways that you will want to handle declining an offer:
- When the job, organization, industry, culture, or other aspect is simply not a good fit for you
- When you have decided to take a competing offer that simply beat out the one you have chosen to decline.
Declining Because It’s Not a Good Fit
In the first case, there is nothing the organization could have done to make you want to take the offer. In the second case, the organization’s offer has simply been beat by another employer that represented a better fit for you. In either case, you always want to maintain the relationship, so giving them the courtesy of formally declining the offer is extremely important.
You should decline the offer as soon as you have accepted another offer or made a definitive decision not to accept. While the conversation may be a bit uncomfortable, it’s inconsiderate and poor business etiquette to delay after making the decision. When you’re ready to formally decline, call your main point of contact and send an email to each of your other points of contact in the organization.
One question that often comes up at this point: why would you spend so much time to simply decline an offer? The answer lies in The Five Principles of Networking Success. You can build your brand and prove your integrity by giving the simple courtesy of correspondence. Based on this approach the next question is: what do you say when you call or email?
Something like this will do just fine:
“Hi, [name], this is [your name] calling in response to the job offer I was excited to receive from your organization. I am calling to let you know that I have decided to not to accept the offer because [and then insert your reason for declining].”
Your reason will be personal and unique, but here is an example:
“I have decided to accept a competing offer that I feel best fits my current professional and personal goals.”
“I do not believe that I am a good cultural fit for the organization.”
You will know the reason better than anyone, so be sure to be honest but professional. That means you should not say “I did not think the offer was any good.” OR “I’m not excited about your organization.” In your emails to the professionals other than your main point of contact, be sure to include the following points:
- Thank them for their time and help.
- Tell them that you are declining the offer.
- Give them your reasoning for declining.
- Tell them you would appreciate the opportunity to stay connected.
- Tell them to let you know if you can ever do anything to help them reach their goals.
Declining Because of a Non-Negotiable Offer
The second case in which you will decide to decline an offer is because the organization said the offer is non-negotiable. In this case, you should make your reasoning clear when you decline by saying:
“I am sorry to say that I have two specific concerns related to the offer you have kindly extended me to join your organization. Due to the fact that the offer is non-negotiable I will have to decline at this time.”
In this case you would state this reasoning only to your main point of contact. In the majority of cases they will simply accept your reasoning and move on. In rare cases, your final decision (either verbal or written) may trigger a decision to negotiate with you.
In case you are given the opportunity to obtain what you want from the offer, you should be prepared to conduct the negotiation. However, if you receive a call or email to negotiate, reschedule for a time when you are able to have your minimum requirements in front of you and you are able to prepare appropriately for the discussion. When you email the secondary contacts you’ve made in the organization, you should simply state that you have declined the offer and then include the same main points we covered previously.
With that, you’re fully prepared to accept and decline job offers in a way that is professional, builds your brand, and maintains the relationships in a positive way. Your job, no matter how little desire you have to accept an offer, is to make the company or employer feel that their time was well spent in considering you for the position.
Because that day five years down the road when you realize you need one of those connections or it’s time to sell something to that organization, you don’t want their one memory to be “that time you snuffed them after they gave you a generous offer.” Right?
cross posted from Living for Monday
Procrastination is just apart of life. There are always items on our “to do” list, whether written down or in our head, we know we need to take care of, but we’ve continued to put off. Begin this week buy taking action on at least three matters you’ve been putting off.
That Call You’ve Been Putting Off
You know is going to be a difficult conversation. Make that call today; get it behind you and feel the surge of energy that results from getting it done.
That Project You Haven’t Started
Taking action – even if it’s a small step – on “that project” you’ve been meaning to start. If it is truly something important that needs to get done within the next 30 days, then schedule an action item today to “prime the pump” for establishing some momentum in moving forward. Once you complete that first step, schedule the next one for later this week or next week. Keep the process moving forward.
That Bad News You Need To Share
Sharing “that piece of ‘bad’ news” you’ve been holding off on telling your boss or colleague about. Maybe it’s not quite as “bad” as you think. Maybe your boss or colleague can help you think about a new way of looking at the matter. Either way, holding onto it is negative energy that needs to be released to free your mind up to focus on positive things.
That Personal Issue You’re Dealing With
Dealing with “that difficult personel issue.” It’s not going to go away if you don’t deal with it or devise a plan for “fixing” it. Schedule some time this week to devise a plan and act on that plan. Get it behind you.
That Paperwork You Need To Do
Dealing with “administrative paperwork” – your expense report, your sales call activity report, a staff performance evaluation. Consider the benefits of getting these things done – the benefits to you and to others who might be affected.
Pick three things, and schedule the time or block out the time to take care of them this week.
Better yet, do something RIGHT NOW to deal with one of more of these matters.
Begin each week this way and watch your “to do” list gradually wean itself down to nothing or almost nothing.
Cross posted from Careerealism
Whether you’re with a company or self-employed, it’s wise to build your personal brand. Doing so will lead to fresh opportunities.
Your brand is how people perceive you. If you’re managing it correctly, more opportunities will open for you and your business. If you manage a team, encourage them to nurture their brand as it will reflect well upon the company.
Building up a reputation isn’t something that will happen overnight, it’s a long-term strategy that requires work and perseverance. But with the tools now available, you have more opportunities to manage and shape your reputation.
Here are the basics to building your personal brand:
Define who you are
The first thing you should look out for is how people perceive you. If you’re looking to become a source, or known for a particular level of expertise, you will need to build your public image.
Look at your abilities and experiences. What do you offer? What separates you from others in your field? If you had to evaluate yourself, what words would you use to describe yourself? How would other people describe you? If you’re unsure about the latter, ask some trusted colleagues or friends to give their descriptions.
If their answer reflects the direction in which you want to go, you’re on the right track. If not, you will need to explore why and identify the steps necessary to change it.
It may sound obvious, but when someone is vetting a potential employee, he or she will Google that person’s name to find out as much about the candidate as possible. Don’t think that this won’t be the case for you; the majority of employers will do it, meaning that you should be aware of the results that appear.
Take a moment or two to search your own name and see what results appear. Chances are, the first page will display your social media profiles first. There could also be blog posts, articles, comments, and mentions that will appear. The results that appear on the first page will shape a stranger’s first impression of you.
In the case of your social media profiles, these can be easily rectified through some editing and adjustments with privacy. Unless you’re directly involved with a site, it can be difficult to modify or change any other results that appear. In that case, unless a link in question is incriminating, focus on only the results you can change.
Choose a portfolio
There are so many ways to showcase your skills and expertise, but picking one—the right one—is necessary. Do you go for a blog, an About.me profile, or a LinkedIn profile?
The answer is relevant to your line of work. A creative type would do well having a Flickr or Tumblr page showcasing his or her work; the majority of professionals would use a LinkedIn profile to connect with others in their industry. LinkedIn can be the most straightforward way of connecting with people. For a small price, the InMail function enables you to contact people with whom you’re not connected.
An About.me page is also a good way of showcasing your skills and bringing together all of your social media profiles. It’s worth trying if you’re looking for a more creative way to display your talents.
If you provide value, people will want to follow and interact with you. But you need to determine the type of people you want interacting with you.
If you need direction, define your niche and focus on that niche only. Provide links relating to it, follow leaders within that field and those within the local scene, contribute to discussions, and interact with people. People won’t know you if you keep to yourself, so take the first step and interact; most people won’t mind, some are happy to continue the conversation.
When people become more familiar with you and are regularly engaging in conversations with you, they will also begin to trust you and your opinion. This is important; it will mean that they will vouch for you, potentially increasing the number of business opportunities you will get.
Don’t expect anything in return
It may sound counter-productive, but it’s an effective method of getting your name out there. The same principles that apply to social media apply here. When you’re networking, it’s tempting to go up to someone with the intention that they can help you with something. While it’s perfectly normal to feel that way, getting something in return should be a long-term strategy.
Think about it, if a stranger approached you one evening, introduced himself, and shortly thereafter asked for a favor, would you consider it? Chances are you wouldn’t—you don’t know him. However, if it was someone that you knew for quite a while, you would probably be more willing to act.
• Business Insider provides 10 tips from different experts about the best ways to develop your personal brand.
• Although focused primarily on businesses, The Branding Muse gives some great branding advice that you can adapt for personal use.
• The Guardian explains how you already have a personal brand, whether you choose to develop it or not.
• Forbes provides the first steps you should take to build your personal brand.
• Inc.’s interview with Julia Allison focuses on the important features behind a good personal brand.
Cross posted from prdaily
Have you ever applied for a position and think to yourself “I don’t stand a chance. This job is way over my head but I might as well apply?” First off, good job, for being confident and ambitious enough to apply for the position. But what happens if you get a phone interview? I’ll get to that in a moment.
If you are trying desperately to find a job, just casually looking for that matter, you need to treat the process as though it is a job. Here are some tips on how to organize your search.
- Keep a book, note pad, Excel spread sheet, whatever is available to you and track ALL of the positions and companies you apply to.
- Beside each entry document the main job duties that are in the description. Then make note of the parts of your resume that you believe are most applicable to the position.
- If you are able to get contact information for any of the positions, make sure you document that as well.
- Continuously update the list and put the positions you are most interested in at the top. Date when you applied to them so you know when to follow up on your application.
Now, back to the position you have no chance at getting. You have a chance. In many cases job descriptions are carefully crafted by Human Resource departments and don’t always give an accurate depiction of the nuts and bolts of the position. Refer back to your organized list and see what information you already have on the job. Then, look over your resume and put yourself in the recruiters’ position. Ask yourself; “Why would this resume make me stand out?” Chances are there skill sets that have been identified in your resume that has gotten you to the opportunity to interview. Take the items on your resume that align most with the job description and make not of them. You will need to refer back to this information during the interview.
At this point you still don’t have a good idea of the position and the phone is about to ring. It’s OK. Breathe. When the recruiter calls, it is absolutely OK to inquire further about the position. Here is an example of what you may say…”I want to make sure that I am able to provide the best answers possible. Could you tell me what the 3 most important responsibilities are?” This can help you tailor your answers to what they want to hear. Without this information you will find yourself in a position where you don’t know what you don’t know. You know?
The HR Recruiter
The HR Recruiter has over 3 years’ experience working in Employment Services and Human Resources. He is currently working on his Masters of Science in Human Resource Development at N.C. State University. He is also a member of SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management).
There are definite rules for its use, but many writers use commas subjectively, leading to disagreement (and acrimony) whenever writers or editors discuss this modest punctuation mark.
This week, I’m tackling another punctuation mark—the apostrophe. The rules for the apostrophe are much more definite, but they are frequently misapplied. So misunderstanding often ensues when it comes to the apostrophe.
Here are some rules for its use.
1. An apostrophe is used to show the possessive case of proper nouns.
• Allison Jones’ article (one person named Jones)
• The Joneses’ article (two or more people named Jones)
2. If a singular or plural word does not end in s, add ’s to form the possessive.
• a child’s wants
• the men’s concerns
• the people’s choice
• everyone’s answer
3. If a proper noun or name ends in a silent s, z, or x, add an ’s
• Theroux’s “The Mosquito Coast”
4. Do not use ’s with possessive pronouns: his, hers, ours, its, yours, theirs, whose.
• The article was hers.
• I have not seen its equal.
5. Use ’s only after the last word of a compound term.
• my father-in-law’s book
• an editor in chief’s decision
• someone else’s problem
6. When showing joint possession with an organization’s or business firm’s name, use the possessive only in the last word.
• the Food and Drug Administration’s policy
• Hammond and Horn’s study
7. Do not use an apostrophe to indicate the plural of a name, an all-capital abbreviation, or of numerals.
• Veterans Affairs
• musicians union
• a woman in her 40s
• during the late 1990s (1990’s—no, no, no, a thousand times no.)
8. Use ’s to indicate the plural of letters, signs, or symbols when s alone would be confusing.
• Please spell out all the &’s.
• She got eight A’s and two B’s on her last report card.
9. When units of time or money are used as possessive adjectives, add ’s.
• a day’s wait
• a dollar’s worth
• six months’ gestation
• two weeks’ notice (The movie title was not punctuated correctly.)
10. When a word ends in an apostrophe, no period or comma should be placed between the word and the apostrophe.
• The last book on the shelf was the Smiths’.
Laura Hale Brockway is medical writer and editor and author of the blog Impertinent Remarks.
Of course rejection hurts, but to tell your friends and family (and yourself) that you were turned down because you were too skilled or too experienced is much less bruising on the ego than the alternative. For companies looking to eliminate candidates, using the word “overqualified” may take some of the sting and fear of retribution out of the rejection. But is it true?
Think about this scenario for a second. You are trying to hire a new employee and you estimate that someone with five years of experience should be able to handle the duties effectively. A candidate is presented with fifteen years of experience that has all the attributes you are seeking. This person should theoretically perform the tasks quicker and even take on some additional workload. Do you really think a company would not hire this person simply because he/she has those additional years of experience? I would argue that is rarely the case.
What can overqualified actually mean?
If your experience is greater than what is required, it generally becomes a problem when your salary requirements are above what is budgeted. It’s not that you are classified as overpaid in your current role, but that you would be overpaid for the level of responsibility at the new job. I list this as the most likely culprit because I often see companies initially reject a candidate as overqualified, then hire that same person because of a lack of less experienced quality talent.
Candidates who have worked for many years in a technically stagnant and regulated environment will often not thrive in less regulated, more technically diverse firms. The conventional wisdom, right or wrong, is that you can’t release the zoo lions back into the jungle once they’ve been tamed.
If your skills are greater than what is necessary for the job, an employer may fear that the lack of challenges provided will bore you into looking for more interesting work in the future. Hiring a tech lead to do bug fixes could lead to a short stint. There is emerging evidence that shows skilled workers do not exit less challenging jobs quickly or in high numbers, but hiring managers are not quite ready to abandon the traditional line of thinking.
If your experience is greater than those conducting the interviews, there could be some fear that you could be a competitor for future opportunities for promotion. If a start-up is yet to hire a CTO, the highest geek on that firm’s food chain may be jockeying for the role. This may sound a bit like a paranoid conspiracy theory, but I genuinely believe it is prevalent enough to mention.
Ageism is a real problem, but in my experience, ageism is also widely overdiagnosed by candidates who think the problem is their age when in actuality it is their work history. Most of the self-diagnosed claims of ageism that I hear are from candidates who spent perhaps 20+ years working for the same company and have not focused on keeping their skills up to date (see stagnant above). I can’t say that I’ve ever heard a claim of ageism from a candidate that has moved around in their career and stayed current with technology. The problem often isn’t age, it is relevance.
So if you are an active job seeker that is continuously hearing that you are overqualified, what can you do to improve your standing?
1. Rethink: Try to investigate which of the meanings of overqualified you are hearing most often. Is your compensation in line with what companies are paying for your set of qualifications? Do you present yourself in interviews as someone who may become easily bored when your work is less challenging? Are you making it clear in interviews that you want the job, and you explain why you want the job?
2. Retool: Make sure your skills are relevant and being sought by companies. Invest time to learn an emerging technology or developing some niche specialty that isn’t already flooded.
3. Remarket: Write down the top reasons you think a company should hire you, and then check to see if those reasons are represented in your job search materials (resume, email application, cover letters). Find out what was effective for your peers in their job search and try to implement new self-promotion tactics.
4. Reboot and refresh: Take a new look at your options beyond the traditional career paths. Have you considered consulting or contracting roles where your guidance and mentoring skills could be justified and valued for temporary periods? Are there emerging markets that interest you?
Terms like ‘overqualified’ and ‘not a fit’ are unfortunately the laziest, easiest, and safest ways that companies can reject you for a position, and they almost always mean something else. Discovering the real reason you were passed up is necessary to make the proper adjustments so you can get less rejections and more offers.
Dave Fecak is an independent recruiter and consultant that specializes in working with software firms primarily in the Philadelphia area. Dave is also the founder/JUGmaster of the Philadelphia Area Java Users’ Group. His blog isJobTipsForGeeks and he tweets at @jobtipsforgeeks.
In today’s society, your resume is the most important document you have to get yourself an interview.
Including power resume words will increase your chance of getting hired by 80%!
When a hiring manager is seeing the same old resume time and time again which includes the cliché words and phrases such as “highly dedicated individual” or “great team player” you are guaranteeing yourself your resume will be deleted.
Poorly chosen words and clichéd phrases can destroy the interest of the reader. Power words when chosen correctly can have the opposite effect of motivating and inspiring the reader
Power Resume Words will make help you stand out from your competition and increase your chances of getting hired!
Top 100 Power Resume Words
Cross posted from Careerealism.com
So, last time we covered some basic “don’ts” of writing a resume. I would like to say that all bases were covered in the last post but alas that is not the case. Here is round two of “resume’ don’ts.”
1) Just post one! A lot of people get to the point in the application where they are asked to post a resume’. This, for many, seems to be a terrifying feat. If you don’t have a resume’ that is fine. But, take the time to create one. There are a plethora of sources out there that can help you in doing so. Not posting a resume’ will surely prevent your resume’ from being seen.
2) What is in a name? When you create a resume’ you save it. And when you save your resume you title the document something. DO NOT title it “Professional” or “Resume’.” Instead, title your document as your name. You can use your first initial and last name if your name is too long. DO NOT use your initials. In some cases this may be fine, however, if your full name is David Allen Madison, (DAM) OR Cameron Allen Nicolas (CAN, as to say you won’t your resume to last a long time)your resume’ may provide giggles for a recruiter but not necessarily in a good way. The more often your full name is seen the better and titling your resume as such is another way to achieve this.
3) I Font take it anymore! This example ties in with the formatting don’ts from the last post. HR Recruiters look at hundreds of resume’s a week. When we come across one that has italics every other line, some parts bold, some parts not and a mixture of Courier New and Arial Black…we usually set it aside until our eyes are able to focus again. Keep it simple and neat. Use the same font for the entire resume’. Bolding certain parts are fine but keep it consistent.
4) Spell Check does not always work! Nowadays we tend to get lazy when it comes to our spelling. We all do it, me included. However, the one place you want to make sure your spelling is absolutely correct is on a resume. So, don’t rely on spell check alone, but read your resume out loud to yourself. You may catch sentences like this…”I supervised to individuals.” Or, “Was a vitality part of the restructure process and prove import supervise of knew employees.” See the problems? Should be “Was a vital part of the restructure process and provided important supervision of new employees.” This may seem extreme but if you don’t know the difference between their, they’re and there you won’t get a job here.
These are only four examples but they are crucial. Next time we’ll focus on interview “don’ts” particularly phone interviews.
Until next time…
The HR Recruiter
The HR Recruiter has over 3 years’ experience working in Employment Services and Human Resources. He is currently working on his Masters of Science in Human Resource Development at N.C. State University. He is also a member of SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management).