Tag Archives: Dirk Spencer

Recruiters


As we get started networking into target companies, you are going to run into some people who are nearly impossible to reach via LinkedIn. Their LinkedIn profile is almost empty.  They may have worked for small companies and have very few connections. They don’t belong to any groups and give you almost no insight into their history. To reach these people, you are going to have to do some serious use of Google. In the end, they will probably not accept your invitation to connect via LinkedIn. Either they do not use LinkedIn much or they may even have an email address attached to their profile that they do not use any more.

Rather than use up too much time working on reaching these impossible people, go after the low hanging fruit. Reach out to the recruiters.

The easiest path into a company is through the recruiters. They need to know as many people as possible. They make a living out of being able to find great candidates. The more people they know, the better the chances that they will find the right match for the job before anyone else can. Like sales people, they want a lot of connections on LinkedIn. They will almost always accept an invitation to connect with you on LinkedIn. Once you are connected to them, you will be a second degree connection to a bunch of people in that company…and it is easier to connect to second degree connections.

Another useful thing about being connected to recruiters is that they tend to change job frequently. Some change as often as every 6 months. A few stay with the same company for multiple years, but most switch companies often. That recruiter that left Dell to go to work at Bazaarvoice in Austin may seem like a lost opportunity (unless you want to work for Bazaarvoice) but in 9 months they may be working for a company you want to network into.

I would suggest that you go to the “People” search field in the upper right hand corner of LinkedIn and select the “Advanced” option just to the right of the window where you input your search criteria. Most people are afraid to click on anything marked “Advanced”, thinking that they are not smart enough to use the Advanced features. In your mind, substitute the word “Helpful” for “Advanced” and go for it. These are helpful features that you should learn to use.

Once you get to the “Helpful” screen, you will see fields for title and company. Fill in “recruiter” for the job and the name of the company you are interested in and just give it a shot. You will need to scroll past recruiters who no longer work for your target company, but you might want to network with a recruiter at HP or Samsung.

One more suggestion. When you find that recruiter you can connect with (you worked with them before or they belong to the same LinkedIn group as you belong to), do not send them the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” message. That would be like asking a woman on a date by saying, “I’m not doing anything tonight. Wanna go do something?” That will work with someone who knows you or someone with no standards but it is not an effective way to establish a new relationship with a stranger. Say something along the lines of  “I am very interested in careers at Dell. I would like to connect with you on LinkedIn.” It is not prose but it is better than the standard message…and it works well enough.

Good Luck and Godspeed!

James Snider
Engstrom Trading, LLC
VP Business Development
888-512-425

When You Catch the Bus…keep running!


There is an old saying, “When you catch the bus…stop running.”  As a job seeker, there is some wisdom in that. I have frequently mentioned Dirk Spencer.  In Dirk’s words, “When the hiring manager likes your answer to an interview question….shut up!” Dirk says that so many candidates blow the interview after acing it because they do not know when to stop talking.

But I am going to talk about something a little different. When you see that the offer is coming, what do you do? Do you start preparing for the job you are about to get or do you keep looking for work as though nothing good was in the works.

Consider a recent experience I had.

I am a consultant….so I am always looking for work.  When I go to the Social Media Club of Ft Worth, I want to hear the speaker but even more important, I want to make contacts. Days are for work. Nights are for making new contacts. Parties….contacts.  Dinner with friends….contacts. Most of my gigs are short jobs.

But what about those really great jobs where a large company wants to hire you for the remainder of the year?  That is like a full-time job and you can relax a bit. You really don’t have time to take on a bunch of new clients.  You have one big client for a lengthy period of time. You can go home at night instead of attending networking meetings. You can go to parties or dinners and enjoy the friendship….it is not going to be a networking session all the time.

This is a good thing.

In this case, I would say I am like the typical job seeker who is looking for a full-time job.  Listen to the rest of the story.

A recruiter found me on LinkedIn and reached out to me. After our phone call, he said he was going to pass my name along. I had proven to him that I was a good fit. Three interviews more….all with recruiters….I’d impressed them all adequately. They were going to set up a face-to-face with the hiring manager. Keep in mind that we are talking about a consulting job at a Fortune 50 company. These recruiters vetted me thoroughly. They were not going to run a bad candidate by this all important client.

I aced the interview with the hiring manager and the other assorted people they ran me by.  Paperwork was sent to me to fill out. A background check was initiated. The recruiters were calling me twice a day to make sure I could start on Monday.  Everything was rolling along. In less than a week, I was going to have a great paying consulting job for the remainder of the year.

At 3:30 PM on Wednesday, I got yet another call from one of the recruiters. His tone of voice told me everything with “Hi James.”  An internal candidate had emerged and was being interviewed for the job. This was the end of the line.

During all this flurry of activity, however, I never stopped what I had been doing before the first phone call from the recruiter. As a matter of fact, when the 3:30 call came in on Wednesday, I was on my way to visit a prospective client. I was still hunting for new work as if I was not starting a long engagement on Monday with a large company.

As soon as I got off the phone, after swallowing the news, I was no worse off than I’d been  two weeks earlier. I never let the potential good news cause me to slow down my job search. You see, I’ve been bumped by that last-minute internal candidate before. I know it can and does happen. I do not want to lose my momentum for something that might happen.

Now my question is this….when do you stop looking for that next job? In some respects, you never do. You always need to be doing some networking, some resume updating, some job board searching. We all know that. But when do you allow yourself to stop making “finding that next job” a full-time job? Not when you get the paperwork. Not when they start the background check.  Not when they ask you if you can start on Monday.

Do you stop when your badge works on the front door? Do you stop when the first paycheck comes in and clears the bank? I do not have an answer.  Maybe I have gotten a little paranoid.  What I can say is, “Just because I’m paranoid does not mean they are not out to get me.”

Sorry…gotta go. I’m buying a prospective client coffee in 5 minutes.

James Snider
Marketing Consultant
jsnider1394@gmail.com
817-905-1394
Anyone can give you social media.  I make sure it’s marketing.

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Insight into the world of recruiters (part three)


We hear from time to time that recruiters are looking all over for good candidates. With budgets still being lean, the cheaper the source, the better. Gail reinforces that message. Sure, LinkedIn is being used. As we saw in my last post, Facebook is now being used. Gail also affirms what Dirk Spencer says about Amazon.com book reviews being a place to find good candidates.

So, one might suppose that Twitter is also a source.  One would be correct.

If you are tweeting all day about the ginormous hamburger you just ate or where you are having coffee, you are succeeding in proving that you have figured out how to tweet from your cell phone. That is worth something, but you are missing a real opportunity to attract a broader audience of recruiters.

Talk about things in your industry. This will build more followers from the professional ranks in your industry and not just the people who are interested in your personal life (if anyone is interested in your personal life).  Use tag words in your tweets to make you standout. If you are a .NET developer, then tweet about .NET stuff.

OK, maybe .NET is not the best example…since there are a lot of URLs on Twitter which end with “.net” and using a hashtag gets you nowhere, since no one seems to use “#.NET” on Twitter. But if you are a Java programmer, you are good. “Java” and “#java” gets you to people talking about  the software platform and not much about the Indonesian island.

Besides, if you are a .NET developer, you are probably not looking around for work. Just post a resume on Dice and sit back and relax.

James Snider
Global Business Development and Social Media Marketing
jsnider1394@gmail.com
817-905-1394
Anyone can give you social media.  I make sure it’s marketing.

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Insight into the world of recruiters (part one)


As I mentioned, about a month ago, I attended the Crossroads Career Transition Workshop (Double Oak, Texas) and heard two of my favorite speakers: Dirk Spencer and Gail Houston.  I just spent several blogs on Dirk, now it is time to pass along Gail’s advice to job seekers.

LinkedIn is still the king when it comes to helping recruiters find good candidates, but according to Gail, Facebook is catching up. It is the new powerful tool.  The reason is pretty simple. 500 million people are on Facebook. 85 million people are on LinkedIn.  The pool is much bigger. As a result, job seekers (whether you are actively looking or simply interested if that perfect job comes looking for you) should make their Facebook information resemble their LinkedIn information.

Click on your Home tab, then click on the Profile tab and then the Info tab…at least, that is what Gail said. For my money, just go over to the “Edit My Profile” tab next to your profile photo on your home page. If you click on that, you have all sorts of options:  Change your profile picture, Relationships (better stay away from that!), Education and Work, Likes and Interests (be careful!), and Contact Information. You have the “functional equivalent” of your LinkedIn profile in the new place recruiters are looking to find people like you.

Speaking of “people like you,”  make sure the recruiter can figure out what you do. If you are a software engineer, tell me what kind. If you are a marketer….tell me what kind. If you are a teacher….you get the idea.

James Snider
Global Business Development and Social Media Marketing
jsnider1394@gmail.com
817-905-1394
Anyone can give you social media.  I make sure it’s marketing.

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The World According to Dirk: “Digital Footprint”


Everyone talks about your “digital footprint.” You would not expect Dirk to tell you what everyone else tells you…that is why we listen to him. While most recruiters are hunting for you on LinkedIn, Dirk is looking for you on Amazon.com. If he needs a software engineer who is proficient in Ubuntu Linux, he looks on Amazon to see who has written reviews on Ubuntu Linux books. These are people who really know the topic and who are pretty good communicators. Nothing worse than sending in the perfect candidate, only to have them answer in grunts and “un-huh.”

This is the sort of thing that has made Dirk a legend among local recruiters. His ability to find those great candidates that no one else can find.

When it comes to LinkedIn, many of us have spent hours trying to perfect all the keyword fields so we will show up on page one of LinkedIn search results (see my post on “Getting Found“). Dirk says that none of that matters anymore. Google now indexes the Internet live so recruiters can find your LinkedIn profile with a Google keyword search.

All those hours of profile tweaking are unnecessary. Set up a Google Profile and get on with your life.

James Snider
Global Business Development and Social Media Marketing
jsnider1394@gmail.com
817-905-1394
Anyone can give you social media.  I make sure it’s marketing.

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The World According to Dirk: “Breathers”


250 - 300 job seekers meet weekly at Southlake Focus

Dirk is normally a very sobering speaker. He does not tell you that everything is going to be OK. He tells you that you are in the fight of a lifetime and that you need to get it all together if you are going to get a job. He frequently tells stories of typical goof ups that average job seekers make, then states, “Stop doing that!”

So, when Dirk talks about “friction unemployment” and how jobs are going unfilled because hiring managers were being too picky, you sit up and pay attention.  Supposedly, we are moving into a period of supply and demand where demand for “100% perfect fit” candidates is greater than the supply. Now we are reaching the end of the year and jobs are going unfilled.

That has not been unusual during the “Great Recession.”

Job boards have made it super easy for candidates to fire off dozens of resumes for jobs they have no hope of ever getting. They lack virtually all the requirements. But since it is so easy to send in a resume, job seekers submit resumes almost like buying a lottery ticket. Maybe they will just get lucky.

With 15 million people out of work, there are lots of people applying for every job (as many as 1000 for a single job).

HR departments are not immune to layoffs. There are fewer people doing more work.

You can see why it takes a long time to fill a position and how easy it might be for recruiters to over look good candidates.

With so many resumes, hiring managers can be very picky. Someone who has all the right experience at the wrong company does not get invited in for an interview. Someone who has 15 years experience does not get invited in for a job requiring 10 years of experience. Etcetera.

What is happening now, according to Dirk, is that these perfect candidates are getting hired. At the end of the lengthy search process, this super high standard being used to evaluate candidates is yielding too few candidates. Jobs are going unfilled and the end of the year is looming. For many jobs, this means the req goes away and the approval process has to be started again in January.

Faced with “use it or lose it,” hiring managers are getting much less particular. This is going to get even more significant the closer we get to Christmas. Many job seekers are less active in December. Most candidates who already have a job, are not inclined to look at all. This means better odds for job seekers who remain active.

According to Dirk, the situation is rapidly becoming urgent where hiring managers are requesting a “breather” i.e. anyone breathing simply to avoid losing the job req.

We will see what we see. I know a lot of breathing job seekers with good resumes. I will get back to you in January on if I see a spike in hiring.

[UPDATE]

According to Southlake Focus Group, December was the biggest hiring month of 2010. They saw 50% more people get jobs in December 2010 than in December 2009.  Maybe Dirk is (once again) onto something.

 

James Snider
Global Business Development and Social Media Marketing
jsnider1394@gmail.com
817-905-1394
Anyone can give you social media.  I make sure it’s marketing.

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The World According to Dirk: “Pick One Thing”


I am sure you have applied for jobs that you thought you were a perfect fit for. You’d done everything they asked for and more. But they never got back to you.  Why?

Dirk has some insight.  If you were a project manager in the past and a technical writer, do not try to cover both skill sets in your resume…unless the job is for a project manager who is also a technical writer. Trying to combine two jobs in one resume just dilutes all the skills related to the job the hiring manager is trying to fill.

Remember, in today’s job market, hiring managers are looking for 100% perfect fits.  They want someone who can hit the ground running with minimal “ramp up” time. If they want a tech writer and all you have done is tech writing for the past 5 years, then you are a stronger candidate than one who did 2 years of project management and 3 years of tech writing.

Rework your resume to talk about all your technical writing skills employed when you were a project manager.

For those of you who have worked for more than 10 years, consider dropping all those jobs over 10 years ago so you can focus your precious two pages to hammering home how much experience you have in the field for which you are applying. Companies are only moderately interested in what you did 10 years ago. If you are trying to make your project manager job look like a tech writer job, you are better off leaving it out instead of confusing things.

The final thing I am going to share with you from Dirk’s mind expanding (and ego bruising) presentation is something I really have a hard time believing.

James Snider
Global Business Development and Social Media Marketing
jsnider1394@gmail.com
817-905-1394
Anyone can give you social media.  I make sure it’s marketing.

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The World According to Dirk: “Transferable skills”


Dirk flies in the face of many things you will read about getting a job. It can be disconcerting to hear him tell you things which are the exact opposite of what you hear from virtually every other “expert.” The thing is, I am finding that these “experts” are giving  advice from “theory” or based on the job market of years gone by or from some parallel universe. I started paying more attention to what Dirk said when it became clear that certain things were just no longer true in the real world. Dirk lives with both feet in the real world.

Take the whole concept of “transferable skills.” Supposedly there are skills which may be obtained in one job (“stay at home moms” learn to multitask, organize, stay calm in chaos, etc.) which are useful in a variety of jobs. I find, however, in the current job market, if you lack experience marketing mixed signal semiconductors for cell phones, it matters little what other semiconductor marketing experience you have; they are going to find a candidate who has exactly the experience they are looking for.

Dirk scoffs at the concept of “transferable skills” (and the functional resume, for that matter). Sure, you may have done something similar to the job being advertised, but how long is it going to take for you to get fully up to speed? In the current job market, employees are being overwhelmed with heavy workloads. No hiring manager wants to wait a week or two for you to get up to speed on a new skill. S/he wants someone who is already proficient and can hit the ground running.

As a result, Dirk stresses the need to pack your resume with the most important skills for the job. If the job is all about strategy and analysis, then those words need to appear over and over in your resume.  If it is about social media, then you need to mention social media over and over. If the req says “digital media” then use the term “digital media.” Do NOT assume that the person or the software reviewing your resume is going to assume that you mean “digital media” when you say “social media” “Twitter” “Facebook” “YouTube” etc. Remember the LCD!

James Snider
Global Business Development and Social Media Marketing
jsnider1394@gmail.com
817-905-1394
Anyone can give you social media.  I make sure it’s marketing.

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The World According to Dirk: “The LCD”


As I mentioned, I had the distinct pleasure of hearing Dirk Spencer speak last weekend to a group of job seekers. I always learn something new when I hear Dirk. One of his most useful tips (and one which blows people away when they first hear it) is, “Write your resume to the LCD.”

Dirk drives the point home, “Make your resume understandable to the lowest common denominator (LCD).” You have no idea who is going to see your resume and decide that it either moves forward or dies on the spot.

You have no idea what software is being used to screen your resume before human eyes (and intelligence) have a chance to look at it and figure out what you are saying. If you have 10 years experience in “global marketing” and the job req wants “international marketing” are you absolutely sure the software or the screener is going to see them as being the same thing? It might sound stupid to you, but “international marketing” might be construed as marketing done while living in a foreign country to target the customers in that country and “global marketing” might be seen as a “one size fits all” marketing where the whole world is seen as one market for the product. Why not make the change to your resume, use their wording, and remove all doubt?  

Additionally, your resume must be an overt document, clearly spelling out at what you are good.  Your recruiter may have little knowledge about your industry. Make that resume something he or she can use to sell you. Does the recruiter understand that mixed-signal semiconductors contain both analog circuits and digital circuits on a single semiconductor die? If the job req is for an analog designer, you can say “mixed signal” all day but you can not be sure the recruiter can sell you. Throw in the salient facts about delta-sigma modulation, a-to-d converters, digital radio chips and all the other techno babble required to land you that interview.  

Dirk suggests using government resources to identify the important knowledge, skills and abilities associated with your profession. He indicated that the government has useful information on all jobs which will help you put the right keywords in your resume. He did not mention specific web sites, but I found the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to be a good starting point.

Since “Writing to the LCD” is such an important theme, it will come up again. Also, Dirk is seen as a “recruiting genius” when it comes to finding candidates via social media. I will get to that eventually.

James Snider
Global Business Development and Social Media Marketing
jsnider1394@gmail.com
817-905-1394
Anyone can give you social media.  I make sure it’s marketing.

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Did anyone get the license on that truck?


I had the distinct pleasure last Saturday of attending the Crossroads Career Transition Workshop. This time, I attended as a volunteer, rather than as a member of the audience.  However, I still took the opportunity to listen when I could. I had a chance to get to know Rex Saoit and Locke Alderson a little better; two quality people. I also snuck away from my duties to hear two of my favorite speakers; Dirk Spencer and Gail Houston.

Dirk and Gail have broadly different styles. Dirk is high energy, hard-hitting, and funny with a distinct bite. Gail is low-key, hard-hitting and funny with a distinct bite. That sounds like anything but “broadly different styles” but when you hear them, you think there could not be two more different people. However, once it is all over, you realize that you were entertained and enlightened while hanging on every word but you feel like you were run over by a truck.

You expect that from Dirk. He lets you know from his very first sentence that he is not going to take it easy on you. With Gail, you don’t see it coming at first. She is quiet and a little bit monotone. By the time you realize that your head is spinning, you catch on that she has been brutally blunt the whole time. It just took a few minutes for her to nail you with something really stupid you have been doing.

It is always exactly what the doctor ordered. No job seeker should miss seeing these two speakers if you have been “in transition” for more than a few months….but put in your mouth guard and tighten up the chin strap on your helmet. You are going to take a few hits before it is all over.

I am going to deviate from my “here is what to do now that we are in the slow hiring season” for a week or so to pass along some of their advice.

James Snider
Global Business Development and Social Media Marketing
jsnider1394@gmail.com
817-905-1394
Anyone can give you social media.  I make sure it’s marketing.

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