Pre-Qualify Your References!

I cannot add anything to this blog by Brad Remillard.

Know Your References Well

We often do one-on-one job search coaching with candidates. This is a three month program where we cover all aspects of a person’s search, and work weekly to ensure that everything is being done to expedite their search. We cover issues that might arise before they arise, discuss areas of conflict, develop a marketing plan, perform interviews, review resumes and tough interview questions, compensation negotiations and check references. It is very comprehensive, and often hidden issues that would keep the candidate from getting an interview or job are discovered and addressed before they become an issue. Too often the candidate never finds out why they didn’t get an interview or offer, when a little up front work would have solved the problem before it became a problem.

As part of this coaching, the candidate develops a complete set of references. The candidate always assures us that the reference has told them “They would give me a good reference.” A CEO I was working with had a board member as one of their references. I called to talk with this reference and make sure that all was well. It didn’t take long to realize that the reference, although not bad, was only average to barely passing. This is not something the candidate would want a company to hear. We went back to candidate and asked to talk to the other board members (at least two). They both had great things to say, and in fact, one was going to recommend the candidate for another position. It turned out the first person had a grudge to bear against the CEO. These two board members then became the references. Had we not done this, the candidate would have never found out why he didn’t get a particular position.

I don’t believe we were deceiving the company in any way. They asked for one board member and instead we offered two. We did not prep the references in any way. All we did was try and get the real picture of the CEO’s abilities without bias or from a person with a grudge.

This is just one of many very easy things to deal with before they become a problem. Do you pre-qualify your references before you give them out? You should.
When talking to a reference it isn’t always what they say, but how they say it that counts.


Outside of the Box!

Read this story online.

David Rowe's sandwich-board job hunt
by Matthew Jones

David Rowe's sandwich-board job hunt - In a pinstripe suit, silk tie and polished shoes, David Rowe has all the trappings of a successful London city worker, except for one stark difference -- he is wearing a sandwich board that says "JOB WANTED."

As he walked down Fleet Street, home to legal firms and investment banks, the 24-year-old history graduate showed the human face behind the "lay-offs" and "recession" headlines.

"The first 20 paces are the hardest, you feel very conspicuous, but you just steel yourself to get on with it," he said, starting a slow trudge toward the Law Courts before turning toward St Paul's Cathedral.

In previous economic downturns it was manufacturing and heavy industry that were worst hit. Now in Britain, and much of the West, white collar jobs have been culled in the financial crisis -- marketing directors on six figure salaries, IT specialists with 20 years experience.

That makes it especially hard for young men and women like Rowe trying to start professional careers. For many the corporate ladder has been pulled away.

They are left with the prospect of low paid unskilled work, if they can find it, and large debts.

"I have debts of about 20,000 pounds ($32,400), and that's not excessive compared with how much some students owe when they graduate," Rowe told Reuters as he took a break from his one-man advertising campaign.

"My dad bet me I wouldn't do this (walking with a sandwich board), that I wouldn't have the guts."


Rowe was facing a tough market even before the downturn. Britain has seen explosive growth in the number of university and college students, but there has not necessarily been a comparable rise in graduate-level jobs.

Twenty years ago about 17 percent of 18-30 year-olds were in tertiary education against a figure of 43 percent in 2008, according to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. The Higher Education Statistics Agency said about 220,000 graduates joined the job market in the 2007-2008 period.

Add that mix to an economy in trouble and it makes uncomfortable reading for people like Rowe.

Latest figures from High Fliers Research Ltd, an independent market research company, found graduate vacancies at one hundred leading employers in 2009 had been cut by 28 percent against 2008 and more than 5,500 vacancies canceled or left unfilled.

Rowe is one jobseeker who is not downhearted. Just hours after he started wearing the sandwich board that offered his services free for a month with the option to then "hire or fire me" he struck lucky.

Gavin Walker of international recruitment firm Parkhouse Bell liked Rowe's initiative and decided to interview him.

"I liked the fact he had thought out of the box. I was impressed by that. I was even more impressed after the interview. He's very employable, so much so I offered him a job to work with me."

Rowe, who has amassed a growing collection of business cards, says he will think carefully about the job offer.

"I told myself I'd do the sandwich board for five days and I will follow through on that."

© Copyright 2004-2009 by Post Chronicle Corp.


All I'm Saying is Give Consulting a Chance

I have to say, as I’m sure I’ve said before, I really don’t understand some candidates’ partiality to Full Time Employment, to the exclusion of even speaking with recruiters about consulting assignments.

I understand that the norm in the consulting world has changed a lot since I was on assignment – with client sites implementing Vendor Management systems and seeming to value finding the lowest cost resource over finding the best qualified resource. The consulting firms chosen as ‘primary’ must offer universe-wide toll-free 24-7-365 customer service in English, in addition to cut-rate labor in English. I appreciate that an attempt to squeeze a fatter slim margin will require providing only the most basic and government regulated services to the Cost Centers (contract employees). Leaving project professionals, who are used to full corporate benefits and PTO, facing the insult of being asked to take pay cuts plus being paid hourly with no benefits or time off.

Additionally there is the indignity of being pimped out to the client site, with never a call or a kiss, until the day your assignment comes due – maybe you were notified, maybe not – and you’re unceremoniously escorted from the building. Then, after providing a consistent income stream for the life of your assignment, you aren’t even sure if the firm is working to land you another assignment, during which they would continue make money on you while providing no evidence of support.

I understand the ugly truth prevalent in the market. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.

In my own experience I was brought on as an FTE of my consulting firm, with benefits and PTO -- salary plus paid time after 40. When my assignments were 45-ish days from complete I was marketed throughout our client sites as a consultant with strong skills and good work ethic. I had very little downtime, I took vacations, I had my teeth cleaned. I felt like an FTE because I was an FTE. My former teammate who brought me to this company was on multiple assignments – in the same client corporation – uninterrupted for 14 years. That is stability – and that is loyalty.

We still operate that same way. And other firms, smaller firms with surprisingly good customer service and employee relations goals, still operate that way. We’re out there.

Maybe the candidates are still glutted from the generous severance package they received from their most recent former employer. Maybe they believe that these severances will continue to be the norm. I can’t see how that can possibly be true.

We’ve all watched the economic news over the past year. Banks being bailed out and obliged to accept oversight. Other corporations are accepting government money. Companies are failing. The trickle-down effect is weakening downstream business. And the layoffs and RIFs and outsourcing continue. Profits are way down.

Corporations will soon reach a point where they can’t afford to provide severance for laid off workers who’ve only been working there 25 months. If they could afford that, they would just keep you.

So, if you’re going to be looking for a job every 24 months anyway, why not be a consultant and have someone else look for you a new assignment every 18 months. Especially when good consultants with great work ethics can often find interesting assignments in consulting even in bad economy. I can honestly say over the past 12 months we have had dozens of consultants in our office have had to choose between multiple consulting offers.

I don’t know, maybe I haven’t made a strong enough point. But I am convinced that consulting is the way this economy is going. And maybe some candidates should try to be a little more open minded about the possibilities.