A Headhunter Takes Aim

Thoughts and recommendations from a technology headhunter

The Career Pivot

The Career Pivot

A reader of the A Headhunter Takes Aim blog wrote me the following letter;

Good Morning Hunter,

 I have been in the market for a new job since being laid-off in April.  On a few job boards, I have submitted my resume and applied to numerous positions, but have only received a few responses.  Some have progressed to the interview stage and didn’t work out, but most end after the first phone interview due to experience, culture, scope of the position, or even money.  My background is in Environmental Health and Safety, but am trying to use this opportunity to transfer into more of an operational role since I am close to finishing my MBA.  Much of my experience is transferable to operational based position because my focus was more of process and policy development versus the straight audit and fix reality of the Safety world.  I would appreciate some advice to help my straighten my ship and get me headed in the right direction of my job search journey.  Any information or opinions would be much appreciated.  I have attached my resume for review.

 Regards,

 John 

 What John is trying to do is pivot from one career path into another. This is a very common desire but not always the easiest to pull off.

How and When to Pivot

Complete a new degree or gain additional training – The best time to pivot is when some milestone has been reached. In Isaiah’s case, he recently finished his MBA. This provides a good answer when asked why he wishes to change his career path. He can reply that he wishes to apply his knowledge gained by his MBA.

Other times to pivot are;

Loss of job – Losing a job is always tough but it may also give you the opportunity to explore new industries or roles within potential employers. If all goes well, it may end up being the best thing that ever happened to you in the long run.

Industry sector is diminishing – It is not always good to be the last man/woman standing. Hopefully your skill set is transferable to a new industry. If not, it is time to get additional training and pivot.

Bored with current career and want to make a change. – Most candidates I talk to phrase this as “they have stopped learning and desire an opportunity to learn new things and grow”. It is a much more appealing answer.

Personal change – Personal change is often a driver of pivots. Perhaps, you can no longer be a road warrior in order to be closer to home to care for an elderly parent. Perhaps, you have come to an stage in your life when you no longer as interested in building as you are in giving back and want to do non-profit or charitable work. These are all good reasons to pivot.

 Pivoting is hard to do

Pivoting may be hard to do. I always tell candidates that finding a new job is a game of equals. If no one is exactly what the employer is looking for, how close are you compared to other applicants? Also, your current background may spark the employer’s imagination. What you bring to the table may actually be of greater value than someone with the exact background they were initially was looking for.

Try to pivot within your current employer

The best way to pivot may end up being within your current employer. Your current employer is already familiar with you background and capabilities. Have an open dialog with your current supervisor. Talk to mentors, target supervisors and human resources about your future career path. Companies will often go out of their way to accommodate valued current employees rather than lose them to another employer.

I know during my performance reviews, I was often asked about my future career path. If your company does the same, it is a perfect opening. Ask what additional skills or training they feel would be needed to make the pivot within the company.

What is John Doing Wrong?

With the information provided I didn’t see anything blaring indicators that John is doing wrong. He has a very well written resume and a clear idea what he would like to do in the future. It may be it will just take time and perseverance until Isiah finds the right opportunity.

A few things that John may do to improve his chances are;

Make sure each resume submitted to potential employers is tailored for the opportunity he is applying for.

May sure his cover letter addresses how his experience and new education/training qualifies him for the position. He may even state in the cover letter that he recently completed his MBA and now wishes to apply what he has leaned in a more operational role. This may make it clear to the recruiter looking at his resume that he is not trying to waste their time with a resume that does not meet their requirements but rather is trying to pivot into a new role.

Footnote

Paul Shanfeld is Vice President; Recruitment at Tech Career Search, Inc. (www.techcareersearch.com). Paul spent over 20 years in the Wireless Industry working for some of the most recognizable names in the industry. He has held executive positions in sales, marketing, product management, business development and strategic planning.

If you have a question or comments regarding finding a job, using a recruiter or would like to propose a future topic for me to address, please use the blog e-mail address of hunter@aheadhuntertakesaim.com

How To Write The Perfect Email Subject Line For Job Hunting

How To Write The Perfect Email Subject Line For Job Hunting

Turning Down Apple For A Start-up

Turning Down Apple For A Start-up

Functional Resumes Are The Worst

http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/don-t-waste-recruiters-time-yours-functional-r-130059060.html

I found this article on functional resumes that I would like to share with you. It is 100% correct. There is nothing good about a functional resume. It is a giant red flag to recruiters that you are trying to hide something. You are better off with a chronological resume blemishes and all. At least it may make it through the 6 second test. A functional resume will only last as long as it takes the recruiter to click on the next resume to be considered.

 My big problem with a functional resume is I cannot tell; which jobs you applied the skills to and to which employer, how long you applied those skills and how long ago you applied those skills. The resume ends up being a giant collection of key words and not worth further consideration.

 The Bottom Line

Do not use a functional resume. It is a giant red flag.

Footnote

Paul Shanfeld is Vice President; Recruitment at Tech Career Search, Inc. (www.techcareersearch.com). Paul spent over 20 years in the Wireless Industry working for some of the most recognizable names in the industry. He has held executive positions in sales, marketing, product management, business development and strategic planning.

If you have a question or comments regarding finding a job, using a recruiter or would like to propose a future topic for me to address, please use the blog e-mail address of hunter@aheadhuntertakesaim.com

LinkedIn, your career search best friend

LinkedIn, your career search best friend

For people actively looking for a new career opportunity, or even passive candidates who want to be considered should an interesting opportunity present itself, LinkedIn may be your greatest resource.

 LinkedIn is replacing recruiter’s rolodex (old fashion device containing contacts) as a means to find candidates to present to clients. LinkedIn is always expanding and updating much more rapidly than a recruiter can ever dream of doing themselves.

 LinkedIn is both a benefit and a competitor to agency recruiters. Recruiters love it for the huge database it offers. They dislike it because it makes their services a little less valuable in that clients can use the same database to find candidates themselves. I once had a client whom forbid me to submit any candidate that had a LinkedIn profile.

 How to be found on LinkedIn.

 A complete profile – Your LinkedIn profile should resemble a shortened resume. The more information you give about past employers, positions and responsibilities the more interest your profile will receive. The 6 second rule applies to LinkedIn profiles as well as resumes. You have 6 seconds to get and hold my interest. Don’t overload your profile; keep it focused to what is important.

 Keywords – Like everything else, keywords are most often used to find you on LinkedIn. Make sure you have any skills that future employers may want such as software packages, simulations or technologies.

 I also use past or current employers a lot. If you work for a competitor, customer or supplier to my client you may be a strong candidate for them.

 Groups – Make sure you belong to applicable groups. If I am looking for a specific skill set I will often join a group dedicated to that skill set in order to find candidates. Joining a career/job site dedicated to certain sectors is a good way to let me know you would consider a career change. For instance I founded two career groups on LinkedIn; LED Jobs and Entry Level Wireless.

 Keep Posting – Add comments in groups or share an update. It is a good way for people to notice you and keep you in the back of their minds.

 What I do not find valuable on LinkedIn

 Skills and Expertise – I know personally I have been endorsed for skills and expertise by people who could not possible know if I have them. Also, LinkedIn puts you through the exercise of “does John Smith know about cow herding?” I have no idea if John knows anything about cow herding but since John recently endorsed me for car waxing I feel obligated to return the favor.

 Recommendations – Recommendations are like reference checks without the ability to challenge what they say. Of course they are going to say very positive things or else they wouldn’t be bothering to write one in the first place. Here too, it is often an exercise in I’ll write one for you if you write one for me. I do not take them seriously.

 The Bottom Line

The bottom line to me is that LinkedIn is an excellent tool to be found or to network. Make sure you have a complete profile that looks like your resume. Also, make sure you are a member of applicable groups. I cannot find you if you are hidden.

Footnote

Paul Shanfeld is Vice President; Recruitment at Tech Career Search, Inc. (www.techcareersearch.com). Paul spent over 20 years in the Wireless Industry working for some of the most recognizable names in the industry. He has held executive positions in sales, marketing, product management, business development and strategic planning.

If you have a question or comments regarding finding a job, using a recruiter or would like to propose a future topic for me to address, please use the blog e-mail address of hunter@aheadhuntertakesaim.com

 

Facebook and The Social Media Sabbath

Every once in a while I will read in a recruiting blog a posting expounding upon the need to utilize social media to attract the so called “Millennials” to career opportunities. The theory being you need to engage them where they live. While I understand using LinkedIn I have no idea what value to anyone Facebook is for recruiting. I can go further and question its’ value to anyone.

I joined Facebook about 8 years ago. The only reason I joined is my niece created a Facebook page for the family poodle Rocky. In order to keep up with Rocky I reluctantly joined.

Occasionally I have family, friends and past acquaintances request that I friend them. I do not want to insult them so I accept their offer. I have never tried to friend someone nor have I ever posted something on my Facebook page.

I understand the original intent Facebook, if I believe the book and movie, was a way for people attending a university to find out about and communicate with fellow students. It expanded from one university to the next. I find this as a perfectly acceptable use. It was a closed network with a common interest. Next came using Facebook to allow close friends and family to exchange pictures and important updates. Once again this is acceptable to me. From there it grew into a phenomenon to the extent that you almost do not exist if you are not on Facebook. There is no internal filter for people as to what is important enough to post. It is used to document every moment of their lives.

Due to constant badgering from Facebook every few weeks I go onto the site. There, I see such highly important posts such as sports games scores, pictures of my “friends” eating or informing me that they are at the local mall or truly life shattering posts such as what they are cooking for dinner. Each time I go on Facebook I think I want the 15 minutes of my life back that I have just wasted.

I used to wonder what do Facebook “friends” do when they are actually together in real life? What do they talk about when every moment in their lives has already been shared? My observation is that they all sit together silently interacting with their mobile device. In other words, they are on Facebook. Perhaps they take a picture of themselves and post it on the site. Some may be on Twitter or just plain texting. Talking is limited to showing each other what is on their phone screens at the moment.

I also see that people now do things in order to have “Facebook moments”. If they go to a museum, concert, etc. they are posting and selfieing so they can document it in Facebook. It is more important to document the moment then actually live it.

I find it a little ironic that there is discussion about the NSA and the rights to our privacy. The NSA does not need to tap your phone to learn about your activity, all they need to do is go to your Facebook page and they will see your timeline of location and who you were with.

People looking for jobs, beware! Potential employers are looking at your social media activity. Do not post things you would not want a future employer to see.

Let’s have a Social Media Sabbath

I Would like to propose a solution

I know a lot of people no longer celebrate a religious Sabbath. Instead, or in conjunction with, I propose a social media Sabbath. Choose a 24 hour period. I don’t care what day you choose as long as it is a contiguous 24 hours where you will turn off all social media. That means no texting, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or social e-mail. Instead, you will you have real interaction with real people. Actually talk to them. You will go out and smell the roses, not take pics of them with the purpose of posting them later. In other words, you will live like your ancestors did in a pre-digital world.

I know it will be hard in the beginning. You will have the fear of missing out. But I think eventually you will get used to it and start to realize that you are more than a Facebook page and real human interaction is what makes us whole.

Footnote

Paul Shanfeld is Vice President; Recruitment at Tech Career Search, Inc. (www.techcareersearch.com). Paul spent over 20 years in the Wireless Industry working for some of the most recognizable names in the industry. He has held executive positions in sales, marketing, product management, business development and strategic planning.

If you have a question or comments regarding finding a job, using a recruiter or would like to propose a future topic for me to address, please use the blog e-mail address of hunter@aheadhuntertakesaim.com

Is Harvard Worth It?

Is Harvard Worth It?

Recently I watched a segment on the 60 Minutes television program featuring Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell is an English-Canadian journalist, bestselling author, and speaker. He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996. He has written five books, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big DifferenceBlink: The Power of Thinking Without ThinkingOutliers: The Story of SuccessWhat the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures, a and David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (2013). The first four books were on The New York Times Best Seller list.

Gladwell finds America’s obsession with Ivy League colleges strange. He argues the presumed advantages of Ivy League schools can actually be disadvantages.  Gladwell went to the University of Toronto and says he’s better off for it.

Here is a portion of the 60 Minutes segment:

Malcolm Gladwell: I have a massive chip on my shoulder. I went to a state school in Canada. You kidding me? I come to New York and all kinds of people who went to Harvard and Yale are mentioning that in every second sentence. It drives me crazy, so — so I have taken it upon myself.

Anderson Cooper: I went to Yale.

Malcolm Gladwell: I know that, but you haven’t mentioned it until now, so I’ve—

Anderson Cooper: I never mentioned it. I really don’t.

He says the assumption in America that students should go to most prestigious school they get into is simply wrong.

Malcolm Gladwell: If you go to an elite school where the other students in your class are all really brilliant, you run the risk of mistakenly believing yourself to not be a good student. Right? So you—

Anderson Cooper: Even if—

Malcolm Gladwell: Even if you are. Right? It doesn’t—if you’re last in your class at Harvard, it doesn’t feel like you’re a good student, even though you really are. It’s not smart for everyone to want to go to a great school.

Anderson Cooper: So if you had a child, would you want them to go to Harvard?

Malcolm Gladwell: No, of course not. I’d want them to go to school in—to a state school in Canada where their tuition would be $4,000 a year.

Malcolm Gladwell: If Harvard is $60,000 and University of Toronto where I went to school is maybe six. So you’re really telling me that education is 10 times better at Harvard than it is at University of Toronto? That seems ridiculous to me.

So, the question raised is the cost of Harvard worth it? Gladwell says no. I say yes.

I’m going to cheat and talk about Princeton University since I know more about Princeton University. I have the privilege of auditing classes there. I also, can the Princeton’s Engineering building from my office window. Whenever I leave my office I am surrounded by the students, faculty and support staff from the university.

I always tell people when considering what school to go to choose the best school you get into and feel they are a fit for. You can never go to too good of a school.

There are so many things that an Ivy League education gives you both tangible and non-tangible;

A phenomenal network of alumni that will act as mentors and contacts now and in the future.

You are given extraordinary opportunities. Pick a country and you have the ability to study there or have an internship there.

You be exposed to the best and the brightest. At Princeton top industry leaders and government officials speak at Princeton almost daily. I have heard John Irving as well as Justice Anthony Scalia.

You will be recruited by the top corporations, consulting firms and financial institutions in the country. Even if you are at the bottom of the class you will face not the question of if you will find a job when you graduate but which offer you want to accept.

You will be surrounded by equally brilliant/special people. I have found that to go to Princeton you have to be more than just academically brilliant but excel in other areas as well. For instance 25% of the students participate in a NCAA sport.

What I really want to address is Gladwell’s statement “If Harvard is $60,000 and University of Toronto where I went to school is maybe six. So you’re really telling me that education is 10 times better at Harvard than it is at University of Toronto? That seems ridiculous to me.”

For this I have two arguments;

First, I remember sitting next to a Vice President of Human Resources at a major corporation on an airplane. I had recently received my MBA and discussed with her a MBA from a top business school versus a non-ranking MBA. She told me that her company recruits both types of MBAs. However the top business school MBAs received a significantly greater starting salary than the non-ranking. The justification was that the top MBA students have already proven themselves where non-ranking would need to prove themselves over time. There could be a time in the future when the non-ranking employee’s salary would equal the top MBA’s but the top MBA is given the benefit of the doubt.

The second argument is that Princeton offers a need-based financial aid program. They offer need-blind admission and meet 100 percent of each admitted student’s financial need with generous aid packages. Since 2001, they have eliminated loans from their financial aid awards and replaced them with grant aid that students do not have to repay. Currently, the average financial aid grant covers 100 percent of Princeton’s tuition. So if Gladwell does not think a Princeton education is worth 10 times the cost of another school’s tuition based upon the amount of loans and debt you will accumulate, it is a false argument.

 The Bottom Line

The bottom line to me is that Gladwell is wrong. While there are many considerations a student should consider when choosing what higher lever college they should go to, you can never go wrong going to an Ivy League school.

While it does not guarantee success, nor does it mean you cannot be highly successful without it, an Ivy League University offers an exceptional education coupled with extraordinary opportunities now and in the future.

I wish I had the focus, maturity and talent in high school to have attended one.

Footnote

Paul Shanfeld is Vice President; Recruitment at Tech Career Search, Inc. (www.techcareersearch.com). Paul spent over 20 years in the Wireless Industry working for some of the most recognizable names in the industry. He has held executive positions in sales, marketing, product management, business development and strategic planning.

If you have a question or comments regarding finding a job, using a recruiter or would like to propose a future topic for me to address, please use the blog e-mail address of hunter@aheadhuntertakesaim.com