Resumes: You Have 6 Seconds…Go!

Thursday, April 19th, 2012|Comments Off on Resumes: You Have 6 Seconds…Go!

In recent days, the internet has been a buzz about recruiters taking only 6 seconds to look at a resumes before deciding whether to toss it or read more.

6 seconds.

That is definitely a bit depressing, right?

My career coach says it takes 80 hours of work to perfect a resume and, even then, you have to tweak it every time for every application.  Goodness knows how long we are working for that 6 second look.

But if your resume is effective, of course, you get a lot more than 6 seconds.

We asked the Artisan Recruiters about their thoughts on resumes and whether the 6-second rule really applies:

Account Manager, Carol Conforti, looks at resumes for more than six seconds, but often looks at a portfolio first so she can relate the work to the experience. Carol feels that creative staffing is different from typical recruiting, as often a few creative hands go into making a campaign and job titles can vary from company to company. However, if the resume is from someone that is not local and the client is not willing to relocate anyone, they get a shorter look.

MD, Katty Douraghy, definitely spends more than 6 seconds looking at resumes but, like Carol, weighs portfolios more heavily since we are a creative agency.  Katty looks at resumes for: keywords, gaps in employment, agency vs. client side history and evidence of leadership skills. She checks for longevity and if jobs were for a short time or whether they were clearly freelance projects.  It takes more than 6 seconds to do a thorough job.

Creative Recruiting Manager, Jamie Grossman, looks first for at least one well-recognized company, industry or brand, but if the candidate is just out of school, she considers where they went. If a talent does not meet the bare qualifications – you can tell pretty quickly they are not going to be right.  But that often requires much more than 6 seconds on average.

Account Manager, Jess Bedford, says the better formatted a resume, the longer she spends looking at it. She likes the use of bold, underlining and bullet points to make it easy to read.  Short descriptions of companies are also helpful to get a sense of industry experience. Education should always be at the end and the information should be contained to one page.

We all hope that our resumes get a good look – and we can definitely always improve them. A few key takeaways:

  • Make sure you are using the keywords from the job description in your bullet points or Summary.
  • Be as specific as possible about your responsibilities and achievements, especially where you showed leadership.
  • Leave some white space to keep it clean and clear.
  • Never neglect the importance of a portfolio when applying for creative roles.

Good luck!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Tax Tips for Freelancers—For Next Year!

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012|Comments Off on Tax Tips for Freelancers—For Next Year!

 

Although you still have until midnight tonight to file your taxes (or an extension), it is never too early to think about how to handle your taxes better next year.

As we are neither tax professionals nor claim to be so, but rather a community of freelancers and freelance placement specialists – we can only recommend the following tips to help keep our freelance talent organized for Tax Time 2013:

Track your mileage – Especially if you drive to pick up work or deliver it to your clients, keep a record of trips back and forth. You can’t count commuting miles, but if you work offsite, mileage to and from meetings can add up to a hefty sum.

 

Create a dedicated office space – You can only take a home office deduction if your space is used exclusively for work. But it doesn’t take a lot of space to count as a home office. Dedicating a small area of your home to work can help with deductions for part of your rent and utilities expenses.

 

Keep your Receipts – Depending on the nature of your business, there are often a number of deductions you can make for things like Equipment, Advertising or Entertainment Expenses.  Save your receipts and work with a tax professional to help you determine what can actually be written off as part of your business.

 

Save some money – Depending on your situation – you may end up owing some tax next spring.  You don’t want it to be a surprise. Therefore, it’s always best to put a bit of each paycheck into a seperate account – just for tax payments in the following year.  Worse case, if you have nothing to pay – you can always give yourself a refund!

 

Make a list – If you work for a lot of different clients over the course of the year, it’s a good idea to keep a list of each client, their contact information and how much you made while working for them.  There are a number of invoicing programs out there to assist with this as well.  NOTE: If you go over $600 for any one client, they should send you a 1099 in January 2013.  This list can help you follow up with any late documentation come Feb or March.

These are just some things that have helped my family at tax time. Do you have any great tips? We would love to hear them in the comments!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Ever Have One of “Those Days” – At Work?

Thursday, April 12th, 2012|Comments Off on Ever Have One of “Those Days” – At Work?

 

We’ve all had them, right?   It’s those days when everything goes wrong from the very start and you find yourself at work and angry at the universe?

You spilled coffee on your new outfit, you’re stuck in what must be the world’s worst traffic, you didn’t get the business you were expecting and/or your boss is not disappointed in the numbers from last month. 

Not a great day by any stroke of the imagination, but have no fear.  There are things you can do to try to nip “those days” in the bud!

Keep it to yourself
Yes, it’s fun to tell everybody how awful your day is and, sure, it makes you feel better.  But what does it do to your co-workers and morale? Either they join you in bemoaning their fate (instead of working) or they get annoyed and ignore you (yet another reason to get frustrated).

Figure out what’s really bothering you
While it’s not really productive to wallow in your bad mood, if you can work out what set you off, you can get past it. Take a few minutes to assess the situation and try to get a handle on it.

Take a Break
Go out for a short walk and clear your head. It’s okay. You’re not getting anything productive done anyway.  The different environment could bring the fresh perspective you seek.  

Think of a treat
It’s only 10:30 and you’re in a lousy mood. Think of something to treat yourself with later IF you can put your bad mood aside and get busy. There’s nothing like a reward to get us moving. Make sure you really follow through and treat yourself too.

I’m the first person to be sympathetic about a bad day – after work! But while you are there, be productive, be helpful, do your best and everyone will be glad you took a few minutes to get your head on straight.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

What Type of Interviewer Do You Have – and What to Do When You Figure It Out!

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012|Comments Off on What Type of Interviewer Do You Have – and What to Do When You Figure It Out!


 
I came across an article written by Doug Hardy of Monster.com about the “6 Types of Interviewers” and thought you might be interested in Artisan’s take on how to handle them.

Of course, the secret is figuring out what kind of interviewer you have as quickly as possible by assessing their body language – so that you can tailor your style to theirs.

For example, if your interviewer is distracted and doesn’t meet your eyes when you are talking, you might be dealing with “The Absentee.” Perhaps he is just having a bad day or didn’t have time to prepare (or doesn’t know how).  The best response? Have a clear message you can express in simple terms. If he cuts the interview short, you can offer to come back another time, but the best thing to do is make sure you follow up in case you can catch him at a better moment.

A tough, abrupt and perhaps even unfriendly interviewer might be “The Inquisitor.” This is a no nonsense interview – the kind no one looks forward to.  Don’t make the mistake of assuming this interviewer doesn’t like you or you won’t get the job. If you can handle this interview with confidence and poise, she will respect you and possibly even become your advocate – if you can pass her test.

Find yourself answering a bunch of unrelated questions at a rapid-fire pace? You may have encountered “The Shotgun.” Preparation pays off with this kind of interviewer – especially knowing your strengths and accomplishments. Be ready with stories of projects on which you excelled and you’ll be ready for whatever comes next.

Insidious, “The Buddy” can lure you into talking about your personal life instead of your professional one. Be friendly and calm, but don’t take the bait. Steer the conversation back to the job and your skillset as soon as you can.

“The Silver Bullet” has a plan and one question which he thinks will reveal the perfect candidate. Unfortunately, he’s already decided what answer he is looking for and you might not hit the target. He will ask an unusual interview question and sit back and watch you writhe. Keep your cool. Start with “I have to think about that one for a minute,” and come up with something simple and professional.

Last but not least, “The Laser Beam” has only one issue on her mind. Go with it and worry about other issues when you get to the next stage of interviews. This type of interviewer will really appreciate technical language and specificity.

No interviewer is perfect, but no candidate gives a perfect interview, either. If you can keep your wits about you enough to figure out which type you are dealing with, you can make every interview count!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Top Tips for Starting your Management Career Right

Thursday, April 5th, 2012|Comments Off on Top Tips for Starting your Management Career Right

 

We’ve talked before about what to do when you think it’s time to quit your job and even how to handle difficult managers, but what about being a manager yourself? 

I was asked recently where I wanted to be in five years and my answer was “Managing a team.”   It would be so rewarding, I think, to focus strategically on a company’s business while helping a team accomplish both the company’s and their own personal development goals.

But wanting to be a good manager – and actually being one are two very different things.  Whether you’re new to the world of management – or a veteran in the field – here are some of our top tips for being a great manager from day one – the kind of manager your employees love to have:

  • Be a Mentor – Part of your job as a manager is developing the careers of the people who report to you. Help each of your direct reports improve their skills, even the exceptional ones.  Take the time to learn how each of your team members likes to communicate, what motivates them to succeed and what their career aspirations look like long-term.
  • Act Quickly – Conflicts on your team will arise, and they must be dealt with right away, fairly and transparently.   Leave them alone and they will get worse, without fail.
  • Don’t Leave Anyone Behind – Someone on your team made a big mistake.  It’s going to be awfully hard – maybe impossible – for them to make it right on their own. They need your guidance and your confidence in them to recover.   Even if the problem is not resolved, your relationship with and respect from your subordinate will not be tarnished.
  • Be Proud of Your Team – And let them know it!  Always give praise to your team, and it’s individual members, in a public forum if possible.  Never claim success as a result of your leadership.
  • Be Approachable – If your team admires your acumen, they want to talk to you, ask you questions and get your feedback.  Make it easy for them to do so. It makes them feel respected and like they can make a difference.

Over the years, I have had some great bosses who helped me grow, and some who couldn’t overcome a lack of confidence in their own abilities to mentor a subordinate.  As for me, I would definitely like to be the former when given the opportunity!

Wendy Stackhouse
, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Top 10 Interview Preparation Tips

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012|Comments Off on Top 10 Interview Preparation Tips

A job seeker going to a job interview without preparing and practicingis like an actor performing on opening night without rehearsing. 

By researching the company, becoming familiar with the interviewer(s),understanding the job description and anticipating questions,interviewees can develop appropriate answers and “rehearse” them aheadof time – overcoming much of the anxiety of typical interviews. 

As Recruiters, a big part of our job is helping candidatesprepare for phone, skype and face-to-face interviews.  While properpreparation does require a considerable amount of time before aninterview, the result is always a more successful, and often much lessstressful meeting. 

With this in mind, here are our Top 10 Interview Preparation Tips: 

  1. Research the company, product lines and competitors.
    Conduct research on the company, look up info on LinkedIn, review the company URL.  Know the products, financials, competitors and names of new leaders.  This research will provide information to help you decide if you’re interested in the company as well as give you important data to differentiate yourself from other applicants as you prepare.

  2. Image is often as important as content.
    What you look like and how you say something is just as important as what you say.  Studies show that as much as 85% of the conveyed message is nonverbal; gestures, eye contact, tone of voice, physical posture and your attire are highly influential during job interviews.  Maintain good eye contact, offer a firm handshake, stand erect, sit tall, avoid nervous gestures and use body movements that projects confidence.  Dress for your interview in accordance with the culture and expectations of the company.  If you’re not sure – ask whoever is coordinating the interview ahead of time. 
  3. Keep answers brief and concise.
    Don’t ramble!  Be brief and concise when answering questions and don’t talk “over” the interviewer. Unless you’re asked to give more detail, speak only 60-90 seconds in response to each question.
  4. Include concrete, quantifiable data.
    Don’t talk in generalities! Be sure to include measurable information (in terms of $ or #s), leadership skills (in terms of people/vendors managed) and provide details about specific accomplishments when discussing your strengths.
  5. Repeat your key strengths three times.
    Don’t be embarrassed to praise your abilities.  Arrogance or obnoxious boasting is taboo, but it’s essential that you confidently articulate your strengths.  By rephrasing your strengths at least three times during the interview, the interviewer is also more likely to remember them.
  6. Prepare five or more success stories.
    In preparing for interviews, make a list of your top skills. Then reflect on past jobs and write out one or two successful experiences that demonstrate each of those skills. You should have 3-5 stories or “accomplishments” that demonstrate your skills. These are perfect answers to use when you are asked some of the more typical “Tell me about you specific skills” or “Tell me about a project you are proud of.”
  7. Put yourself on their team.
    Visualize yourself on the job. Whenever possible, ally yourself with the prospective employer by using the company’s name and referring to specific products or departments. It is also effective to phrase your answers and use the words “we”, “our” and “I” to position yourself as a team member. For example, “As a member of the ________ (specific product name or department) team, I would work diligently to ensure that we could achieve our objectives.”
  8. Highlight your work.
    Take your laptop, tablet or print portfolio with your latest samples. Speak about your involvement, technical skills, team mentality and any project leadership when taking the interviewer through the work. Take 3-5 additional copies of your resume in case anyone else joins the interview.
  9. Ask questions.
    The types of questions you ask and the way you ask them can make a tremendous impression on the interviewer.  Don’t ask about salary and benefits. Instead, use questions to reveal your research on the company’s products and competitors.  Ask questions to define company processes or hierarchy for you.
  10. After the interview – follow-up.
    Write a “Thank You” letter or email to everyone who interviewed you and re-state your key skills, stress what you can do for the company, and re-emphasize your keen interest in the company, department and/or products.

Happy Interviewing!

Overqualified? Really??

Thursday, March 29th, 2012|Comments Off on Overqualified? Really??

 

A friend of mine recently heard that she had not landed a job because she is “overqualified.” She was gobsmacked!

What does that mean? How could that be a bad thing? She wanted to know, and I’m sure there are many out there wondering the same thing – “How can anyone be overqualified for an empty position?”

With today’s poor, although improving, employment climate, there are many highly experienced but unemployed folks out there looking for work. Some of them are moving into freelance projects and entrepreneurship, but some are changing career paths and applying for entry-level roles in new industries, perhaps at a lower salary than they previously earned and with fewer or no direct reports.

I asked our team of recruiters what it means when a job seeker is told they are “overqualified” and what it might mean about their experience in relation to that specific position:

  • You may have more experience than the person that you will report to.
  • You may have a higher salary requirement than what they are willing to pay.
  • You may take a position and then be more likely to leave because you are working below your potential and are not challenged by the work.
  • The person you would be reporting to is intimated by your skills and knowledge.
  • Someone with too many years of experience may have work habits that are hard to break. The position might want someone more “green” so they can “mold” them to fit the company’s style and culture.

At the end of the day, turnover and training are both expensive. A company wants to know that the investments they make in new employees will not have to be repeated anytime soon.  Most companies would prefer to leave a position vacant until the right person can be found, rather than hire and then lose someone who is overqualified who takes “the first job that comes along”.

If you are one of the highly-experienced job seekers in the market, here are a few ways to avoid appearing overqualified for positions, before you ever have an interview:

  • Edit your resume bullet points – Replace the accomplishments that don’t apply to this role with ones that do.  Or simply remove them.  Be sure to include keywords for the current position in your bullets.
  • Education – List any degrees or certifications that are relevant to the role, but leave out more advanced degrees. Your Ph.D. or MBA is an incredible accomplishment!  But do you need it to get this job?
  • Cover Letter – A cover letter is really the only way to express why you would be challenged and excited about the role, even if you might appear to be further along in your career on your resume.

Remember that your resume is simply a tool for standing out in a pool of candidates. As long as everything on your resume is true, it doesn’t have to tell your whole life story.

Wendy Stackhouse
, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Facebook Password, Please

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012|Comments Off on Facebook Password, Please

It has been reported that potential employers are asking candidates for their Facebook passwords as part of the interview process or, alternatively, looking over the shoulders of candidates while they log in to Facebook to see their profiles.

Now, I haven’t actually heard from anyone who has been asked directly to supply this informaiton, but an officer of the Maryland Department of Corrections says he was asked for his log-in credentials. Someone could be testing the waters to see how asking for passwords would go over with the general public, but this report is being widely discussed. Even two US Senators have requested the Department of Justice and the EEOC look into the practice.

Whether this is becoming common or not, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place in case you’re ever asked. Everyone certainly has an opinion on how to react:

  • One school of thought believes that we shouldn’t be posting anything on social media we wouldn’t want the world to see anyway, so who cares.
  • Another opinion is that Facebook is personal and not business and no employer has any right to any of that information at any time.

    Unfortunately, private isn’t really private on the internet, as we have discussed before and it is always a good idea to think before you hit that button.

  • Another group (me included) thinks that some information can be posted publicly for employers to see and get a feel for your social media interactions, but not all personal information. Since I use social media for work at work, I like having some updates on my public profile as writing samples and background information.

    I put a link to my Facebook Page as a “business person” right on my resume and do post some information publicly on my Facebook Profile as well, but only what I would want strangers to have access to.

    I would, however, never give my Facebook password to a potential employer and don’t think you should, either. If you gave it, how would they know you would protect their proprietary information? And how could you avoid disclosing information that it is illegal for them to ask for?

    And remember that when someone has access to your profile, they also have access to information about your friends who have not given consent for that access to anyone but you. It’s not just your own privacy at risk.

What should you do if you are asked for your Facebook password?

Don’t panic. Give them a link to your public profile or page, if it is relevant to the job. Tell them you don’t believe that disclosing passwords is a safe practice in business (remember it might be a test to see if you would disclose something inappropriately). You can also mention that it is in violation of Facebook’s Terms and Conditions to give out your password and you respect those rules, like you would respect theirs.

If they insist, unfortunately, I believe it is time to politely and firmly end the interview. Company culture is an important factor in job search and you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. If they make you uncomfortable in the interview, how would it feel to work there?

Update: Maryland is now poised on the brink of being the first state to ban employers from asking for Facebook passwords!  49 to go!

Wendy Stackhouse
, Consultant for Artisan Creative

LinkedIn Updated: Make it Work for You

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012|Comments Off on LinkedIn Updated: Make it Work for You

 

When LinkedIn first made headlines, and indeed when I first started writing about it on the Artisan Blog, it was good for 3 major things:

• As a place to post your resume where it could be searched
• As a way to connect with people you know and the people they know
• As a place to boost your credibility in your field as a thought leader by participating in discussions

But LinkedIn is getting bigger and its usefulness is getting broader as well.

Telling a More Complete Story
With the addition of Volunteer Experience and Skills, you can show not only what you have done as an employee, but what you can do that you have learned outside of work, how you give back to the community and where your passions lie.

Searching
Job searches are great on LinkedIn.  You can also find people who work at your target companies. LinkedIn searches are also excellent for finding people who work in the role you would like or who have other things in common with you (same school, same cities, same former companies, same volunteer organizations, etc).  This gives you the opportunity to broaden your network beyond the people you know in real life.

Establishing Yourself in a New Role

If you are changing the focus of your career, LinkedIn can put you in touch with people in your new field and allow you to show your expertise and knowledge even before you land a job. Get yourself into groups and discussions in your new target area and let the people there know what you bring to the table.

The social media landscape changes almost every day, with new platforms, new profiles and new ways of engaging. It’s hard to keep up with the changes sometimes, but well worth the effort.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Tips for Interviewers

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012|Comments Off on Tips for Interviewers

 

Helping candidates prepare for interviews is a big part of what recruiters do each day.  However, in screening and qualifying candidates for a variety of positions, recruiters are usually also experts at how to interview too.

Some of the things we’ve previously discussed on our blog – like body language – apply to interviewers as well as interviewees.  However, there are also posts, such as questions interviewers can’t ask in an interview, that are just for you.

We decided to give interviewers a few more tips for finding the perfect candidate:

  • Prepare – Make sure you know ahead of time what you plan to ask the candidates and how you will describe your company and the role.  Don’t hesitate to bring notes and be sure to keep the tone positive.
  • Listen – Active listening is essential to getting the information you need. Make eye contact with the candidate and listen to their tone – as well as their words.

  • Ask open-ended questions – Questions that start with “How”, “Why” or “Can you explain” are great ways for candidates to tell a story about something they’ve done in the past. Stay away from “yes or no” questions that stop the flow of the interview.
  • Keep track of time – Always leave time in an interview to address any questions the candidate might have about your company and the role.  This will give you some insight about what’s important to them.
  • Arrange next steps – If an interview goes well and you think you could have the right person on the other side of the desk, don’t be afraid to tell them.  Enlighten them on your current interview process and set up a second interview with other hiring authorities or team members, if appropriate.  If the interview did not go well – or it’s too early in the process to determine a fit – let the candidate know when a decision will be made about next interview rounds or hire(s).

The right hire can make a huge difference to the success of your business; the wrong one can stop progress in its tracks.  A good recruiter can help you find candidates with the right credentials and experience, but only you can decide who is the best person to add to your team.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

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