Jobseeking

Job Hunting? Be careful you don’t cross the line into canvassing…

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It’s a dog eat dog world out there, especially if you’re on the hunt for a job.  I’ve written a number of blogs over the past couple of years offering advice to people looking for new employment opportunities or getting ready to attend interviews and I always encourage people to be as proactive as they can.  This means being alert to opportunities as they come up, using your networks, sending carefully crafted emails or letters & cvs to organisations you want to work for, etc.  As we all know, a large percentage of jobs are never advertised – so it’s important that you get yourself on the radar.

However, you can go too far.  When that happens you can be in danger of either being disqualified for canvassing or you can just annoy someone so much that they put you on the “no thanks” list before you even get a chance to shine.

Recently I’ve started to receive large numbers of Linked In requests from people I don’t know.  Many of them are people that are looking for work.  Guys – this isn’t going to do you any favours.  First of all, I only connect with people on Linked In that I have met in real life & know and like.  I joked when David Cameron joined Linked In that he needn’t bother sending me a request as I wouldn’t accept it.  It’s the truth.  In my mind, it’s pointless being professionally “connected” with hundreds of people that I don’t know.  Twitter’s the place for that.

Sometimes, before I click the “ignore” option, I do take a look at the person’s Linked In profile.  Call that what you like – nosiness, curiosity, even politeness.  I live in Northern Ireland so if it’s a name I half recognise or someone that I think I may have met, I look at the profile to find out more information.  Surely that’s the point of having profiles.

I don’t then expect that person to send me a public tweet thanking me for looking at their Linked In profile & saying they hope Learning Pool will be in touch with them shortly.

This is so wrong on so many levels:

1.       If we’ve advertised job vacancies, we’re in a process and using social media in this way to promote yourself to people in the company could be construed by some to be canvassing, and that can result in your application being disqualified from the process.  In Northern Ireland we work within very strict recruitment guidelines in order to meet legislation around equal opportunities in employment.

2.       I might sit in on interviews from time to time and I might meet people before we offer them a job, but it will be our team leads that are driving the recruitment process at Learning Pool not me.  If you contact me outside of the process, I am unlikely to know anything about the particular process you are in (we advertised 10 vacancies in the press on 27 December) and even if I was interested in your experience and skillset, I’m unlikely to mention you to one of our team leads – they’ll pick it up themselves as part of their shortlisting activity.

If you’re looking for a job & want to work at Learning Pool, spend time & effort instead improving your cv (most of the ones I see are dire) and writing a decent covering letter.  Or spend time getting onto our radar before we actually go out to recruitment – so that we already know you.  There are many ways you can do this – intelligent commenting on our forums, writing an interesting personal blog & making us aware of that, conducting interactions with us on Twitter or coming along to our events & chatting to us.

I know that many of you will have opinions or questions about this topic and I hope we can have some debate in the comments section.  As always, love to have your input.

How to present yourself well at job interviews

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In my job I do a lot of interviewing, both for Learning Pool & for other organisations that ask me to help them out with this from time to time.  It’s taken a lot of effort to find and assemble the 50 or so perfect (ish) people that form Learning Pool’s current #teamlovely.

There are no doubt thousands of books written on this topic but having been involved in two sets of interviews this week alone, these are my top tips for interview success.  You will have loads more tips of your own & I hope you’ll share them with us in the comments section below.

·         Do take a few deep breaths before you go into your interview & try to remain calm; we know you’re nervous but you have to be able to manage your interview nerves

·         Don’t bring in a load of files & papers & copies of cvs to your interview – it’s distracting & makes you appear disorganised/forgetful/dishonest (as in you can’t remember stuff about your own career!)

·         Don’t take notes or write stuff down – again – it’s distracting

·         Instead, do really focus on what the panel are telling you or asking you; 30% of the people I interviewed this week (yep – you heard that right) asked for the question to be repeated when they were already half way through answering it.

·         Do manage your time well.  You will know in advance how long your interview is likely to be.  Don’t ramble on for ages when answering what are clearly icebreaker questions designed to make you relax a bit or you’ll have no time left to get onto the stuff you want to tell them about yourself.

·         Do really do your homework about the organisation & think about the job so that you can pre-empt the questions you might be asked – not to stalker level obviously, although if you have carried out research that’s that thorough, don’t tell the interview panel – it will scare them.

·         Do be friendly & chatty but don’t be too over familiar or go too overboard in your enthusiasm for the organisation

·         Do pre-prepare enough questions so that if some of them get covered off in the course of the interview you still have one or two left

·         Don’t ask about money in the first interview stage unless either the panel brings it up or you’re there for a sales job

·         Do think carefully about why you want the job & why you want to join that organisation as they will probably ask you – saying it’s because it’s close to the train station isn’t a good response.

I’ll leave you today with some of the weirdest interview behaviours we’ve witnessed lately:

·         The guy that drank about 3 pints of water

·         The girl that told us she would do ANYTHING to get the job – Paul’s face was a picture on that occasion

·         The guy that turned up dressed head to toe in white, including a hat

·         The girl that couldn’t stop crying – that was difficult to cope with

·         The girl that didn’t appear to have read the job description at all – despite having submitted a detailed application form

·         The guy who was so argumentative that we had to stop the interview & start over again

Looking forward to your stories, as always.