Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Not all “Job Fairs” are created equal.

Next Wednesday, Oct 10th, Career Prospectors, a networking group for career seekers in the Richmond area, will sponsor their second job fair this year. They have secured other sponsors (listed below, with a link to the details and how to register) and they have secured, to date, 33 companies that are looking to fill positions immediately.

Since the group tends to be professionals looking for jobs in IT, Accounting, Logistics, Project Management, Sales, Marketing and Human Resources, they have targeted companies that have needs that they might be able to fill. With 8 days to go there are 141 people registered to attend on LinkedIn events.

There are a couple of things I find extraordinary about this event. The first is that it is being organized by volunteers that know that if they help each other in their career search, that they all will find jobs faster. This will also show up in the way they attend the event, treating it as a networking event, because they know that while there are some companies looking for something they may want, there are other recruiters that will find out the next day, week or month, that they need talent that they weren’t looking for at the event.

The second thing that stands out is the little bit of cost that is involved in putting the event on. There is no cost for companies or job seekers to attend. There is of course, some cost for the space, supplied by one of the sponsors and there will be some bottled water distributed and some signage and name tags that will be sponsored as well.

Marketing is being done through networking, that is to say word of mouth and social media, so there are no monetary costs created to secure employers or prospective employees. Because the registration is being handled on LinkedIn events and Meetup, there is also the advantage for recruiters and job seekers of being able to follow-up easily.

In the end, what it appears that is going to happen, is that a group of people looking for great employees is going to come together with a group of people that are demonstrating how great they can be.

Sponsors for this event include:
Career Prospectors
Brandywine Realty Trust
Attributes For Success, LLC
New Horizons Computer Learning Centers
Winning The Training Game
To find out more click here.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Working the numbers

Some numbers were shared at Career Prospectors the other day by a successful candidate. The one that stood out was 253. Later the numbers 5 and 15 were also mentioned. I would like to add 12 and 4 to the list.
Before I explain the significance of these numbers, let me give some background. Career Prospectors is a group of folks that come together to help each other network, learn about resources and learn about the tools and mindsets for a successful job search.
It is a volunteer run organization and has no costs associated with it. Through the connections of the people that run it, primarily Charlie Wood, and the people that are searching for a new career there are weekly speakers and programs.
The overall objective is to overcome the de-personalization of the hiring process, by networking your way to hiring managers and sometimes finding the “hidden jobs” in the market. To this end, much time is spent on the basics of networking, including the personal introduction or “elevator speech,” the types of events that are available, what the objective is at an event, how to take it to the next level and how to sustain the relationship.
Typically at a networking event, the goal is to identify 1-4 people that a person may be able to add to their network or in other words, build a relationship. The next steps to this process is to follow up and if worthy of taking it to the next level, have a one to one meeting. These are often referred to as having “coffee” if informal or “informational interviews” if slightly more targeted and formal.
Networking With Purpose
Keeping in mind that you are seeking to go around normal company processes designed to keep you out, in neither case is a job asked for and in fact the objective is to see if each individual may be able to help the other out.
(BTW: Career Prospectors will be having a great presentation on the informational interview on Tuesday July 10th)
Now back to the numbers. 253 was the number of one on one meetings held by this successful candidate. The number is purely anecdotal and is skewed by the fact that this individual was looking for a senior leadership position. Nevertheless, this is the number of times that this person sat down with other individuals and created a relationship, one or more of which helped in the completion of the job search.
The second number is 5. This is the number of one on one meetings that are encouraged to be held each week by each member of the Career Prospector group.
The next number is 15. This was the number that an owner of a recruiting company, in a presentation at Career Prospectors, said should be held each week.
Finally, that brings us to 12 and 4. If a person needs this many (253) meetings to find a new position, it will take 12 months at the rate of 5 meetings a week. The alternative is to get out more often, hold the fifteen meetings and get the search done in 4 months.
No it’s not easy, but do you have the time or the money to do less?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Risk Versus Opportunity

Do you embrace opportunities or do you see risk? The problem is they go together. You can’t have worthwhile opportunities that don’t entail some risk. It’s the way you look at the two that determines whether you are moving forward or holding yourself back.

I overheard part of a presentation, that among other things discussed social media. The presenter admonished the group to be careful about what they put on social media. The problem is that the risk was addressed more strongly than the opportunities.
I understand that you need to be careful. However, if the group was told that they can market themselves online and that everything they post to social media is a permanent part of their brand or image it should achieve the same thing. If they were further told, that their lack of participation dates them, or at least leaves them at a competitive disadvantage to someone who is openly building a positive image online, they would have a different perspective on the risks involved.
I believe there are other significant advantages to participating in social media, but this post is about seeing opportunities and then assessing risks rather than seeing risks, avoiding them and missing opportunities. It’s about glasses being half full instead of half empty.
The real lesson to be learned from social media is that there are millions using it to meet their goals. So what if instead of focusing on the risks, you focused on how others are getting things done using it?

Monday, January 9, 2012

I was wearing their shoes

I posted yesterday about recognizing my perspective in other people. Today, I want to discuss seeing other people’s perspective. I talked about how I had been put into this unfamiliar role working on the side of the road monitoring tree crews trying to make right of ways safe.
The first thing I discovered was why it sometimes seems there are so many people watching while so few are working. For at least a couple of trees, there were as many as 11 people involved. The County had originally ordered the work after a hurricane came through the area. They usually did not have a representative but this was in a busy and hard hit park so there were 2. A company that specializes in disaster relief work was contracted to do the work and they had 1 person on site. The contractor subcontracts out the work to companies that would normally be providing tree services in their hometowns, there were 4 of them, three of which were working and the owner that was supervising. Finally, in addition to myself there was another monitor, a supervisor and the project manager for SAIC that had been hired to monitor and document the work, so that the county knew how much to pay and ask for reimbursement from FEMA.
Put another way, you have buyers, service providers, contractors and regulators all at this job site. Each of these individuals and groups is further bound by ethical and liability issues to do or not do certain things. So even though I might be capable and willing to do a task, my doing it might be an indication that I had become too close and possibly co-opted by the group(s) I was monitoring and could put the company in jeopardy.

A 4" 10' branch 30 feet high in the air, could do some real damage.
While the first lesson pertained to the work and the fact that so many different entities and interests were involved the second lesson was even more eye opening. This lesson came during one of the traffic delay incidents, where a driver honked their horn and went around the truck, directly under the bucket and the limb that was being removed. It was hazardous, irresponsible and frankly illegal, but I guess they couldn’t wait.
It was then that one of the crew members looked at me and said, “we might as well go back to Georgia, they don’t appreciate what we are doing anyway.” It was a HUGE statement because it showed the different perceptions of what was happening. For the driver, this crew and their work was an annoyance, for me they were a tree crew doing work, but for the crew, they were doing “hurricane relief” and “protecting the public.”
Everyone was right. However if the limb had fallen on the car, the resulting insurance settlement and body work would have taken a lot more than the five minutes they would have been delayed by staying behind the truck. For me it was a reminder, that while we see the same thing our perception formed by the path we walked, shapes our attitude towards the event.
There was also a big leadership lesson. Each tree they worked on before this incident either qualified by the rules or it didn’t. Each tree after this incident either was detrimental to public safety or it wasn’t, in which case it didn’t get worked on. By understanding why they were here, doing what they were doing, I was able to lead better, which resulted in my being assigned the more “difficult” to control crews which became more productive and less difficult.
Dale Carnegie wrote that we should not “criticize, condemn or complain” and that we need to “Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.” For me those 2 lessons from How to win friends and influence people couldn’t be any more closely linked. Try the latter and see if you can really do the former.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

They Were Wearing My Shoes

Well they weren’t really wearing my shoes, or even driving my car, but I sure did recognize the attitude and frankly, it was embarrassing.
Let me take a minute to give some background. About 6 months ago I escaped real estate. I know, the first reaction is usually the same to that one; real estate is a hard business, it’s been a tough few years. Totally true and almost irrelevant because I really had been trying to escape real estate almost since the time I started. I just never enjoyed it, so I went to work for a builder, I developed a web site when I should have been selling, I went to work in a non-selling  capacity for another builder, I trained agents in how to be successful, when I should have been selling, and finally after 15 years, I sent my license back to the state.
I didn’t leave real estate for something, but rather to be done with it. This meant that I needed to figure out what I could/ should offer the world and then how to do that best. In the meantime was the realization that I needed to put some money in the bank.  
So in September, I found myself working for SAIC as a monitor following tree crews that were trying to make sure the right of ways were safe in Henrico County Virginia. This meant with hard hat, orange vest a GPS, digital camera, tape measure and clipboard I documented all their work and conferred on whether it was eligible under FEMA guidelines.

I was, for 5 or 6 weeks, 12 to 15 hours a day what I had always called a “watcher” or “watcher, watcher.” If you have ever driven, you know the scene; 1 or 2 men working and 2 -5 people standing around watching them work.

Removing branches hanging over right of ways, some are huge, sometimes required stopping traffic. Now, it doesn’t take long before you stop someone that gets really upset and tries to intimidate their way through or even worse force their way though causing the crew to have to watch out for the safety of the driver as well as themselves.
Looking into some of the faces of these drivers is what made me realize, they were just like me. Until that time, I had always been the one in the car, wondering why they picked this time, why they can’t get off the side of the road and in general why were they in MY way. I was wearing someone else’ shoes and I’ll talk about that tomorrow, but when I looked at the faces of these drivers, pissed off and glaring back, it was like looking into my own face and I didn’t like it.