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My column in the Detroit Free Press “Try these four tips for a sucessful job interview”

15. May 2013

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My column in the Detroit Free Press “Prep before interview to calm nerves”

30. May 2012

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Prep before interview to calm nerves

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My column in the Detroit Free Press “Helping others with online job search also can benefit you”

10. February 2012

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"Helping others with online job search also can benefit you"

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How to Harness Social Networks and Branding Yourself Online Video

14. July 2010

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This video is from my speaking engagement at the LA2M event in Ann Arbor July 7 2010

This video is from my speaking engagement at the LA2M event in Ann Arbor July 7 2010

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Interview from hell!

20. February 2009

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I want to break down an interview I sent a talented candidate on; the events that played out were completely avoidable. This was a new client, an agency of record for a couple of major brands. This would be the first candidate I sent to interview with this well-known agency. I was very confident that this was a match made in heaven for my client and candidate – until the day of the interview. I asked my candidate to call me when the interview was over. I see on my …

interview-from-hell-2

I want to break down an interview I sent a talented candidate on; the events that played out were completely avoidable. This was a new client, an agency of record for a couple of major brands. This would be the first candidate I sent to interview with this well-known agency. I was very confident that this was a match made in heaven for my client and candidate – until the day of the interview.

I asked my candidate to call me when the interview was over. I see on my caller ID it’s him and, confident that I will be getting feedback from a positive meeting, I asked how it went.  Well, there was air over the phone and I knew from that point on, everything was going downhill from there. He proceeds to break down his interview, where he was scheduled to meet with three senior-level management people, and tells me:

"Well Collin, the first thing I did not care for was the hour long wait in the lobby. The receptionist did not even ask me if I would like coffee or water, nor apologized for the wait." (First impressions are lasting.)

“I finally get to the first interview and he seemed frazzled from the meeting he just came from.  He proceeds to tell me he did not have my resume, nor has he had time to look it over. He muddles through our interview, interrupts to take a call, and then cuts things short to make an important meeting." (Nice.)

I said, "Ok, how did the next person you met with go?"

"He was a no show – was stuck off site. His assistant walked me to the other side of the building for my last interview, and as I was walking past the cubicles, there seemed to be a negative vibe."

“I finally arrived to my last interview and the questions she asked did not relate to what I was interviewing for. On top of that, she seemed to be more interested in the sound of her own voice and accomplishments. The icing on the cake was the comment she made to me towards the end of the interview. She said, ‘ we needed you yesterday. We all are working late and my client is not happy with us at the moment.’ "  (Wow.)                                                                                                                                                                                                      

"I’m going to pass on this company Collin. I was really excited about the opportunity and heard great things from colleagues. But it is very clear that at the moment, the company is going through some issues that I just as soon avoid. I’m going to stay where I am."

This company is fundamentally sound and has great clients, yet has not taken an interest in how they represent themselves in the interview process. Companies need to take just as much of an interest in what is going on internally, as they do externally with their clients. Focusing on your company brand is critical to recruiting and retaining top talent. 

Here are a few suggestions to ensure your interview process is successful:

  • Set the tone that interviews are a priority.
  • Make sure your administrator clears the interviewer’s schedule so they will have appropriate time to spend with the candidate, along with no interruptions.
  • Develop internal training on how to effectively interview candidates.
  • After each interview, assess how the experience went for the candidate.

Note: Top talent will always be in high demand – whether we are in a good or bad economy.

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You ran into a great contact-now you can kick yourself!

10. February 2009

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  I cannot tell you how many times I could of kicked myself after running into a potential client or great contact I had been trying to connect with for the past year, now he’s standing 6 feet away from me in the grocery store, and I blow it!     I walked past him and said, "Hello, how are you tonight?" The only thing going through my head at that moment was, "I cannot believe I let that opportunity fall right through my hands!" I was not prepared for any …

 

I cannot tell you how many times I could of kicked myself after running into a potential client or great contact I had been trying to connect with for the past year, now he’s standing 6 feet away from me in the grocery store, and I blow it!

 

 

grocery store isle

I walked past him and said, "Hello, how are you tonight?" The only thing going through my head at that moment was, "I cannot believe I let that opportunity fall right through my hands!"

I was not prepared for any situation to present itself and it had. What I found so disappointing is how many times I allowed this scenario to play out over and over again.  Are you prepared to seize an opportunity anywhere at anytime? 

The first thing I conquered and resisted for a long time is memorizing my pitch. Yes, I said I memorized my pitch. If you don’t know your brand well enough to convey it in 30 seconds, then you need to work on it. Memorizing your pitch and making it your own helps the end result sound natural. I purchased 3 x 5 cards and started to break down my brand. I wrote down all the fundamentals of what I bring to the table, along with the typical objections people threw at me so I could overcome them. I made sure I knew what I provided as a service front, back, and sideways. I have memorized my presentation so many times that I am now prepared to deal with any situation that could be a potential opportunity. Over time, you hone in on what works and what doesn’t by trial and error.

Below is a list of questions to help you prepare for that unexpected golden opportunity:

  • Know your brand – what separates you from the pack?
  • Are you prepared to overcome objections to your service on the fly?
  • Do you have a blog or website featuring what assets you bring to the table?            business-card
  • Do you have a business card on you? (This should always be on you!)
  • Are you prepared to send information the next day?
  • Is your LinkedIn and Facebook updated?
  • Did you ask for a business card? (If they don’t have one on them always have a pen handy)

All the suggestions above are your supporting props!

Important: You will always be less inclined to approach someone if you are not well prepared to handle the situation. If you are not prepared, you will panic and allow the golden opportunity to slip away. Can anyone in this economy afford not to take advantage of all situations that might present itself?

*Being prepared = Confidence 

 This is one of the most important skills to have so you can be prepared to handle that unexpected event that presents itself. You will be confident and ready next time. It is mission critical to understand your brand and how you convey it to others.

Make your pitch a home run! small-30-second-pitch1

 

 

 

 

 

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How to avoid Crisis Reactive Mode

3. February 2009

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  Crisis Reactive mode: When you have made no prior planning to an event that could possibly play out, and now it has.   Ok, if I get hit by lightning today this would be one of the most important posts I will ever write! As a headhunter this has been a consistent problem with talent. This situation can be avoided if the right steps are in place. Let me show you in dialogue format an all too familiar scenario.   Me: ring ring “Hello?”  Candidate:  "Collin, I am in the …

crisis-reactive-mode

 

Crisis Reactive mode:

When you have made no prior planning to an event that could possibly play out, and now it has. 

 Ok, if I get hit by lightning today this would be one of the most important posts I will ever write! As a headhunter this has been a consistent problem with talent. This situation can be avoided if the right steps are in place. Let me show you in dialogue format an all too familiar scenario.

 

Me: ring ring “Hello?” 

Candidate:  "Collin, I am in the main conference room along with 40 other people, we were just laid off and they will not let us go back to our desks and our work computers have been confiscated. I am freaking out!!"

Me: "First of all, I am sorry about what has happened but you are well prepared to deal with this situation."

Candidate: "What do you mean I’m prepared?"

Me: "Well, we discussed over 2 years ago, and several times since, a proactive strategy to keep yourself optimized in the marketplace. I sent you a list and examples on how to accomplish this."

Candidate: "Uhhhh"

Me: "You agreed with me when we first discussed this that this is a great action plan to follow throughout your career."

Candidate: "Yes, this is true, but…"

Me: "So, lets calmly go down the list.  Have you made time to go to industry meetings and did you subscribe to those blogs I suggested to keep up with what’s happening?"

Candidate: "No."

Me: "Why don’t you send me your updated resume."

Candidate: "I will need a couple of days to work on that, I did not update my resume on a regular basis as you suggested."

Me: "Did you sign up on LinkedIn and the other social networking sites I suggested to keep yourself fresh within your network of influence?"

Candidate: "No."

Me: "Did you back up your work on a daily basis so you can keep an ongoing catalogue of what you have accomplished at your company, so you can show your next employer that you are effective and results driven in your role?"

Candidate: "No."

 

You get the point I am trying to make with this dialogue. It is soooo key to make sure you are working on your brand at the same time you are working at your place of employment. Putting a strategy together so you never end up in this candidate’s situation is critical! Going into crisis reactive mode plays out when you are not prepared, and not just in your career.

Sadly, when people get in this mode they end up making more poor choices on top of the event that has just occurred, myself included, “been there done that."  I know we all have time constraints; we can come up with endless excuses for why we don’t do the things we need to do – count me in again. 

 

Below is a list of things you should be doing on a regular basis:

 

  • Set up a catalogue system to keep track of all data and assets you find beneficial – it is key for all your data to be useful and searchable!
  • Get your work online – everyone should have a portfolio, not just creatives.
  • Always back up your work so you can analyze it on a regular basis, or "benchmarking.”
  • Make an effort to do some schmoozing at industry events.
  • Make sure you sign up on social sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
  • Join online user groups and blogs pertaining to your area of expertise.
  • Update your resume regularly, adding in your newest quantifiable results.
  • Set up alerts with keywords that pertain to your career on Google, Twilert.com, and Indeed.com. 
  • Leverage a great headhunter to help with strategy and opportunities! “Shameless plug”
  • Know your competitors in the area and across the country.

*I am referring to all companies, not just the ones that are popular because of their hot talent.  Remember this is why we know about them – because they are doing these steps on a regular basis.

You will expand on some of the suggestions I have just made if you take a proactive interest in your career strategy and your ongoing brand development. In most situations, people had some idea that this day was coming, along with a little voice inside saying, "I have to update my resume and portfolio, I need to start networking…."

Lesson: Avoid crisis reactive mode by taking a proactive stance and strive toward a better future by anticipating and preparing for future clouds on the horizon.

I welcome your comments on this post.

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Not being a nice person on the way to the top has its consequences

22. January 2009

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  This is a true story that has played out many times.  I have watched this scenario up close working with talent, and below I have written an all to common scenario.  Let me tell you about this person’s background before I move on to the chain of events that played out.   This candidate is award-winning and extremely talented, the problem is he was not very nice on his way to the top.  I had known through the years by people that worked for him that he was abusive, condescending, …

mean-boss-for-on-your-way-to-the-top

 

This is a true story that has played out many times.  I have watched this scenario up close working with talent, and below I have written an all to common scenario.  Let me tell you about this person’s background before I move on to the chain of events that played out.  

This candidate is award-winning and extremely talented, the problem is he was not very nice on his way to the top.  I had known through the years by people that worked for him that he was abusive, condescending, played games with people, always took the credit on projects that were a success, and blamed others when the client was not happy.  I am sure you get the type of person I am talking about.  We all know someone just like this.

There is a philosophy I believe in: "there are natural laws in life that will play out one way or another at some point, positive or negative, depending where you put your energy."  This Creative Director calls me and says,

"Collin, my company just laid me off for budget reasons and I need to get in front of the top agencies across town.  I am sure I will have many offers so lets get rolling."

 In my head I realize the opposite is going to play out.  I tell him I will make some calls first to see if anyone is hiring before we move forward on working together.

 I know when I make the calls to other clients I am going to get some interesting responses.  What the Creative Director did not think of as he moved forward in his career is, all the people that quit from frustration or people he fired with no real merit, are now salt and peppered all over the city, and for that matter across the country.  I call the top Creative Director at one of the local agencies where he would like to interview This Creative Director used to work for this guy when he was an Associate Creative Director, and now my client would be working for him!  I break the news that he wants to come in and interview.  Well, I cannot tell you the expletives this CD began to spout; I brought up an old wound he wants to forget.

"I would never in a million years bring that toxic person to my office.  What he did to me and others were unforgivable and I heard he has not changed his ways at all.  I don’t care how talented he is…"

I pick up the phone and call a few people at other agencies.  Same scenario.  Some of the feedback went something like this,

"Collin, I mentioned his name to my team and they all told me they would quit if I even entertained the thought of bringing on this person."

 

You get the idea, right?  The reason I went down the road of making calls for him is the hope that when I give him feedback, he will rethink how he conducts himself in the in the future.  I did not want it to be my opinion, but a consensus by many.  I have found in the past if I don’t do this, he will end up thinking it was just my opinion.

So I give this guy a call back and tell him the feedback, minus the expletives.  At first he was very defensive and could not believe that people thought of him in that light.  That in itself tells you how out of touch this person is with how others viewed him.  I was waiting for him to ask me the toughest question that I had to answer,

"Collin, so what do I do now if no one wants to hire me at the big agencies and the smaller ones cannot afford me, what do I do?"

I calmly and slowly said, "you need to move out of the state and start fresh – you are toast in this town."  There was air over the phone which seemed like an eternity!

I did not take any joy in doing this.  Hopefully, I helped someone that is truly talented, but needs to seriously clean up their act!  I am sure you are asking yourself how people get to the top behaving like this.  Well, that is another post but it does happen and as far as I’m concerned, it always catches up with you.

I put together a small list of musts as you move forward in your career:

  1. Maintain good relationships with your co-workers; you never know when you need to call on them.
  2. Stay in contact with people that have moved on to other companies.
  3. Always be respectful to others, there is no excuse not to.
  4. Be observant of verbal and body language – obviously this guy did not learn this.
  5. Go out of your way to do something nice for someone; you would be surprised how far a handwritten card will go in an age when all we do is email!
  6. Make sure when you take a job, you have done your homework on the leadership to make sure you don’t end up in this type of situation.

Lesson: If you are starting to behave in anyway like this person, this is what will probably play out for you also.  Talent is not the only hand you can play to truly succeed in your career or life.

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