The Long, Long Search

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Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

A little over 8 years ago, I walked through the doors of WunderLand. Back then, WunderLand was a hungry, one-and-a-half year old start-up with a hand-crafted team of folks whose mission was simple yet fierce: provide the service of staffing in the manner of how we’d like to be treated, ourselves, as individuals. WunderLand’s green and white cheery logo in their temporary office space breathed ambition alongside the founding team’s mighty desire to hold true to treating others how we want to be treated. The afternoon of my interview I wanted to just set my bag down and start working: I accepted the job immediately. When you find the right role you simply feel it and it’s infectious across both sides. I speak with many people who are equally eager to dig in and get settled but despite today’s booming staffing climate, they simply can’t find a job.

Where Are All the Jobs?

Despite the low unemployment rate and all the boisterous chatter of how great the job market is, senior through executive-level candidates call me routinely feeling stuck in an extended search, struggling to find the right next job. These folks are frustrated hearing how wonderful the economy is yet the right opportunity seems impossible to find. They apply to numerous job postings but they never hear back. They get wrapped in a multi-week interviewing cycle that ends up with a corporate restructure bringing them back to Square One. They fall into a nebulous black hole. When these candidates finally do hear back for a role they applied to, the position isn’t as exciting or the pay is completely off base. Things aren’t matching up and they are quickly losing patience.

Patience and Trust

You are not the only one going through this. Searches are lasting a long time and there are more people stuck than you think. Patience and trust are two very important hallmarks to persevere through an extended job search.

As we progress along our path, our careers and job searches become more complicated. Our household budgets may increase while our need for flexibility grows…our careers become more robust and high-level. There simply are fewer higher-level roles making these desirable jobs more in demand which leads to a longer, more complicated search. Extended searches are emotionally taxing so here are some tips to maintain your positivity:

  • Define your individual contributions. How have you positively impacted an organization’s bottom line? What were the numbers and analytics behind your work? What makes you unique? Jot down your successes on notes and stick them all around your office…surrounding yourself with Post-Its of your achievements and successes will help keep you focused on your unique and valuable qualities during an isolating search.
  • Take stock of your personal evolution. Think about who you’ve become during your tenure and try to sort out what really matters to you right now. We can get stuck in a career track that can suddenly, and sometimes without warning, cause us to pause and take a look at winging it and going in a different direction. Yes it’s scary to look toward that unknown but staring into that void can open up amazing possibilities.
  • Stay in communication. Get out and meet people, call your connections to talk, keep in communication.
  • Trust yourself. The right role does come along. It will be scary and it will be frustrating when you see or read about others’ career successes while you feel stuck but keep focused on what you and you alone offer.

This year marks my 15th year within the recruiting and staffing industry. These years have afford me the great honor of helping companies and individuals through complex hiring and career decisions. It’s impossible to not be inspired by those who take the jump and go in a new path—or push through a grinding search to find just the right role. The best guiding lesson I’ve learned during these 15 years is the insight to see that the right person lands the right job. Allow yourself patience and trust. Meanwhile, I’m always here to help.

You Have the Courage

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Photo by Gabriela Palai from Pexels

I’m at the quarter-mark in reaching my goal to swing through the trees this summer with my girls. Making time to train and work out seemed impossible a few weeks ago–now, I can’t imagine not making the time to focus. I am carving the time for me and my goal,  one rep at a time.

Sure, doubt constantly creeps into my mind warning me that the trees will be too far apart or the rope will be too high for me to reach. Who do I think I am, now, to start this process? I shush the voice and instead reflect on every candidate I’ve worked with and watched traverse their own Career Playing Field. The folks who landed the raise, coveted title, and growth they deserved–they achieved those goals by defying the negative voice. They focused and took a jump. They left comfortable, tenured jobs for a risk. They stayed up late and plodded through the intimidation of updating a resume. They swore at their computer as they forced themselves to grind through coding their own website.

So each week I step forward toward my own goal. To every person who goes out on a limb applying for that next level job, who sits in a waiting room waiting for the interview to begin, and then chooses to accept the next thing, cheers to taking ownership and control.

Next steps can be scary but they all start the same. One action at a time. Plan a date, set your calendar, and watch how awesome you are at carving your new path. Believe in your ideas–you have the courage to make those ideas your reality.

Staying Focused

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The start of the New Year is exciting–it’s a fresh start, a blank calendar, a new page. For some people it’s hitting the gym. I am part of this group of people–the New Year, New Work Out folk. Santa brought our two girls a backyard obstacle course and I’m committing myself to being able to scale the rope that will be hanging in between our two very old and (hopefully) very sturdy maple trees. When I watched our girls unwrap that gift I could see their minds spinning, imagining themselves propelling across the trees to make it to the other side. In that moment I knew for sure that I didn’t want to be watching from the ground, looking up, and wondering how it felt to be suspended by your own strength. So, I’m going to work to get myself across those trees.

Some of us may be facing obstacles: a job that doesn’t fit right, unemployment checks not covering the mortgage, or feeling stuck and not knowing how to take a next step. While you watch your LinkedIn Feed ripe with So-and-So’s New Opportunity it’s important to stay focused on who you are and what you contribute to the world around you so that you can stay focused on your next step. Look beyond the job to the ways that you impact your community, friendships, and family. Make a list of these contributions and tuck that list away in a place that you carry with you every day. Becoming intimately familiar with your impact on the world will carry you through uncertainty.

Stick with your plan–even if you are not quite sure what that plan is. Find a goal that resonates with you inside or outside of work and set a small plan to achieve it. I’ll report back at the end of August to see if my plan carried me through the trees. Let’s rally each other to help us achieve what we’ve each set forth…professionally and personally. Here’s to a fantastic year.

2018 Hiring Recap

On November 18 I had the privilege of delivering a presentation on Hiring Marketing Trends at the Chicago AMA’s Career Smart event. I spoke alongside Gibraltar Business Capital’s SVP of Marketing and Operations, Jess Moyer. Below is a recap of our presentation including the resources that we shared. The Chicago AMA provides wonderful resources and is an excellent source of high quality networking and education. We were honored to be a part of this fabulous evening!

The noise regarding today’s job market is unavoidable—you can’t go anywhere without hearing about how low unemployment is. With all this noise you may wonder: How can I hire with all this competition—or you may think—if there’s so much opportunity why aren’t people beating down my door with job offers? It’s critical that you learn how to Stand Out…in the right way.

Defining Your Need

For Hiring Managers, how you define your candidate need as an organization, how you approach going to market to recruit for that person, and what your interview process is like are critical discussions to be having well before going to market for a candidate. If a candidate is interviewing or exploring an offer with your organization, they are absolutely exploring other jobs with other companies.

Let’s look at the noise and competition on the job boards this year compared to last year:

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Source: EMSI www.economicmodeling.com

With so much competition, it’s imperative that an organization sell their company and role to prospective employees.

Selling “The Why” and Be Organized

There is no such thing as a passive candidate. Once a candidate is contacted about an opportunity, that person is officially on the market…and with a market like today’s you cannot waste time. Candidates want a smooth interview process, career trajectory, and solid benefits.

Candidates can sense a messy environment a mile away…and a disjointed, over-extended, multi-step interview process will quickly turn a candidate off. One of the best things you can do to ensure a smooth hiring process is identify your 3-5 non-negotiable candidate requirements. Sit down and come up with your laundry list that you’re looking for…go ahead, get it alllll out there. And then edit it 35 times with all the people who are making the hiring decision and in agreement with the top 3-5 qualities you want this person to possess to make your life easier.

When I meet with clients to discuss an open role, I love to ask them the fun parts of the conversation: the why parts. Why are you here? Why do you stay? Why has your longest tenured employee stayed? Why this company? It’s critical for organizations to be compelling and sell who they are to sought-after candidates.

Be Open-Minded

Be open-minded to candidates who demonstrate having the aptitude to grow with your company.  Pay attention to why they made jumps in their career, not how many. Think about how they approached the interview itself when you’re thinking about the candidate as a full package. Were they polished and prepared? Did they bring ideas? Waiting for the “Perfect Fit” who checks off all the boxes signals that you’re not really ready to hire—and puts your time to getting the candidate who can truly help you advance your strategies in the chair that much further down the road.

On the candidate side, you’ve got thousands of job postings to pursue so stay away from laundry lists! Gravitate your search toward postings that brag about the benefits, show you a path, and give you a feel that the organization is concerned about your growth with their company. Checkboxes, exclusionary postings, you’ve got your choice so keep going. At the same time, know what the market is looking for and know how to apply those needs to how you sell yourself.

What the Market Wants

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Source: EMSI www.economicmodeling.com

This list of “Top Requested Hard Skills” over the past year demonstrates that skills that add to the bottom line of a company  are truly in demand: business development, analytics, selling techniques, digital marketing, and customer relationship management.

More companies than ever have come to me asking for marketing directors and managers who can re-strategize their efforts. As a candidate, always think about how the work you do improves the bottom line for an organization. Whether it’s driving membership increases for an association or introducing new, digitized marketing initiatives for a legacy organization, always be thinking about how you can translate how you move the needle into your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Companies are coming to us more often for go-to-market strategies in efforts to stay ahead of the competition. Many hiring managers over the past year have specified wanting to see candidates who are keeping up with the trends and can anticipate what’s next.

Defining Culture Fit

Culture fit ranks high up there with the “Reason for Rejection.” It’s a lovely grey area. Well, yes, this person can define a marketing plan on a limited budget, they are HubSpot certified, and yes, they can code emails…but the culture fit is missing. How are you as a hiring manager effectively assessing culture fit during the interview process?

I went to lunch with a friend of mine who leads marketing and operational success for a SaaS organization here in Chicago. She shared with me a great series of questions she asks candidates to help her successfully vet for culture. These questions help develop themes and consistencies across a candidate’s background. Themes that form synchronicity with your brand and beliefs can turn a “not-perfect fit” from a skills perspective into a candidate with the right aptitude to be a great hire.

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These questions start with the very first experience listed in the candidate’s resume. The answers candidates give to these questions are very telling and can paint a pretty descriptive picture of the accomplishments this person is capable of achieving with your organization.

On the candidate side, these questions are a great way for you to prepare talking points for all of the work that you’ve done for your organization. Taking time to walk through your background and asking yourself these questions prepares you for sitting across the table from a hiring manager and showing them concrete examples of how you moved the needle, thought outside the box, or implemented cost-savings for an organization…and if a company isn’t asking these questions then that’s certainly indicative of their culture.

Top Hiring Industries

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Market trends show us that there’s been a large uptick in roles in manufacturing and a decrease in roles in the retail sector. With the loss of marketing positions with major retailers including Sears and Claire’s here in Chicago this certainly isn’t a surprise. Many times I speak with marketing directors and managers who have devoted a significant portion of their careers to a specific field, say the association or retail world, and wonder how they can translate this experience to an area of industry that is experiencing growth.

Think about how you can lift your marketing work and the results it obtained out of the industry you have been in. Focus on the impacts your work made on the bottom line of an organization or increased membership. Consider adding case studies to the body of your resume and LinkedIn profile.

2018 Marketing Career Resources

So how do you build a more organized interviewing process, close skills gaps, and find sources of inspiration? Here are some excellent career resources including books, blogs, continuing educational suggestions, and networking groups! I look forward to next year’s recap and findings! I’d love to hear from you–WunderLand is always here to support you in hiring or with your career development.

Books

“What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith

“The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search” by Orville Pierson

“Epic Content Marketing” by Joe Pulizzi

“Creative Conspiracy” by Leigh Thompson

“Who Gets Promoted Who Doesn’t and Why” by Donald Asher

“Digital Marketers Sound Off” by Matt Chiera

“1001 Ways to Recognize Employees” by Bob Nelson

 

Blogs

https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2014/11/cornucopia-of-content-marketing-inspiration/

https://www.marketingprofs.com/

https://chiefmartec.com/

https://humanworkplace.com/blog

https://hireplexus.wordpress.com/

https://blog.wunderlandgroup.com/

 

Interviewing

https://whothebook.com/

https://www.slideshare.net/caroy/summary-of-who-presentation

 

Continuing Education

Ice Nine: https://icenineonline.com/training-sessions/

General Assembly:  https://generalassemb.ly/locations/chicago

 

Networking

American Marketing Association’s Chicago Chapter

Meetup.com (“Chicago Area Marketing Associations”)

Content Marketing Institute

Women in Digital

 

AMA Career Smart

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Chicago’s American Marketing Association continuously offers high quality, valuable networking and enriching events for both job seekers and hiring managers within the marketing space. Their Career Smart events are no exception! I’m excited to be speaking at their upcoming Career Smart event taking place this Thursday, November 15.

2018’s job market is super competitive for both job seekers and hiring manager searchers. Whether you’re hiring for critical positions in the midst of the lowest unemployment yet–or thinking of launching a job search of your own, come join me in learning about effective tips, helpful trends, and valuable resources to help you stand out. I’ll be speaking with Jess Moyer, SVP of Marketing and Operations at Gibraltar Business Capital. Jess brings a fantastic career leading marketing initiatives from both large-scale organizations and mid-sized companies in the financial sector.

The event is at the IIT Stuart School of Business at 565 W. Adams on Thursday, November 15, starting at 5:30 PM. Members of the AMA can register for free and there is a charge of $50 for non-members. I’d love to see you there! More details can be found on the AMA Career Smart website.

Job Search FOMO

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What if you’re happy in your current job? You are satisfied with your pay…you make enough to cover your essentials, sock away for tomorrow, and even sign up the kiddos for park district activities. Heck, you even have the flexibility to coach soccer. You know the players on your team, you have seniority, and you’re quite, well, comfortable…but the rumbling freight train of today’s stellar job market shouts, “It’s a candidate’s job market!” “These are the highest salaries we’ve ever seen!” “It’s the lowest unemployment rate, in, like FOREVER!” If you’re not part of this action you may, well, feel like you’re missing out.

Reading the constant stream of New Job Alerts on LinkedIn can also really make you feel like you’re the jokester for not bailing from your great gig. You’re not rapidly applying for jobs but you may chat with a recruiter from time to time. You may entertain an interview for something that sounds really enticing but the next morning you realize you’ve got it pretty good so you stay put. You’re happy…but you feel a tug and are unsure if staying put is silly when there’s all this great opportunity out there. Is it OK to be OK in your role?

We hope–especially those of us who make our living in the staffing industry–that unemployment will forever stay as low as it is today, in October of 2018. It is thrilling to see so many folks gainfully employed while those on the market actually have roles to choose from…but will this high last forever?

Refer back to your list of priorities and be assured that the role you are in meets what you need to feel satisfied. Comparison is the thief of joy–revel in where you landed yourself in your career and allow yourself to feel satisfied in the path that you walked. When it’s time for you to take your next step, you’ll know because your list of priorities will shift, change, or flow–and when they do, I’ll be right here to help.

Retaining Your Team

People are your company’s greatest asset : How are you keeping your folks happy?

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People are a company’s greatest resource. Not the product a business creates, the membership it drives, or the apps it produces. The people who keep the machine running are the most critical asset of an organization. People are your company’s walking reputation.

The employment data that WunderLand has at its fingertips shows that it takes 64 days on average to open up a requisite and have your dream candidate start the job. That is over two months of sifting through resumes, conducting interviews, executing background checks, and too many tours of the office cafeteria. We all know it’d be much easier to keep the folks we have engaged, happy, and employed than to start the 64 day cycle.

There are two main reasons people share with me, time and again, as to why they leave a job: not being heard and not feeling valued. So what are some things you as a hiring manager can do to keep your employees happy?

  • Ask your team members what they truly think. This is the most critical thing. Job seekers constantly share with me that their managers don’t listen to them—either about an idea or the trajectory of their career paths. Employees who express desire to manage, mentor, or lead and are told that the organization doesn’t support it will leave. A round table meeting is held but only a few folks’ ideas are acted upon—they will get frustrated at not being heard and will leave.
  • Write down all ideas and listen. Listen to what your folks say and find ways where they can mentor, manage, and lead with or without a staff…open up discussions around leading by example. Help identify and enroll in classes, provide the ability to spearhead a specific project of influence. Make your team members feel valued…think creatively and respond.
  • Treat Others With Respect. Feeling respected translates into feeling valued. Valuing your employees is more about doling out raises, praise, and promotions. Instilling an open, trusting environment is paramount to keeping your employees happy and engaged. Permitting (or worse, participating in) gossip, G-Chat rants, and negative chatter can cause folks on your team to feel untrusting and unvalued. Think about how you respond and interact with your team members when they bring up concerns—or simply how you greet them on a Monday morning.

It’s hard to stop in the moment and give your employees the attention they may need—you are pulled in so many competing directions that taking a moment to connect can seem like a moment wasted. You hired these folks because you know they are the best ones out there—as good as they may be, they don’t always know they’re on the right track. Take a moment to tell them they’re doing a great job. Be proactive to keep  your office positive, trusting, and open.

Today’s job market is ripe for the picking—create an environment of value so your star folks stay with you. It’s as easy as stopping to listen.

How you treat folks who are interviewing for your positions is another way you can set the tone for your business’ reputation…watch for those tips in a future article. WunderLand is always here to help you navigate the hiring process. And I’m here to help you to find ways to curate the right team.