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Category: Job Seeker Best Practices

Understanding Generational Difference in OUR Workplace – A Follow Up

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Last month we examined some of the differences between generations and how they can affect your workplace. To follow up on that topic and offer some real-world insight, our CEO, Karen Wilson, asked me to talk to our team about what it’s like to work with co-workers spanning various generations.

Our sample of employees includes members of Generations X and Y, as well as a baby boomer. They include recruiters, managers and everyone in between. We wanted to offer a full perspective on what it’s like to work with different generations here at MAKE!

Here’s what we found:

  • Being tolerant of different behavior is a good idea, even if you don’t understand it. Multiple members of our team mentioned that they’ve observed or noticed behavior that didn’t necessarily make sense to them. This is a fairly common observation in multigenerational workplaces. But, more importantly – they realized that being tolerant of different behaviors is essential to a harmonious, productive workplace. As one MAKE team member put it, “Neither is better or worse. Just different!”
  • A strong company culture is essential. Several employees noted that a strong company culture allows them to work better with other employees, regardless of their generational differences. When your company culture supports a collaborative, friendly work environment, your employees are likely to get along – regardless of age differences. As our baby boomer noted, “I’m not sure what other advice to give, other than treat everyone with respect.” When your culture supports respect among peers, your team is much more likely to get along.
  • Employees across generations are eager to learn from one another. One of our Generation Y employees noted that some MAKE co-workers have a significant amount of industry experience – experience that can provide immeasurable benefit to someone just getting started. Understanding and appreciating that there is a great deal to be learned is an incredible benefit to professionals in any generation. Another member of our team observed the advanced computer skills of younger co-workers – which provide an opportunity to hone some of her own skills. As one MAKE team member put it, “I’ve learned to adapt and try new things. My way is not always the best way.”

I think the best way to summarize our generational experience here at MAKE is with this quote from one of our employees:

“Learn from everyone. All generations have something to add. With experience comes wisdom and with youth comes innovation.”

Wise words from our team—and a special thanks to everyone who gave their insights for this blog!

Do you have any stories to share of multigenerational workplaces? Are there any challenges your team is finding? Feel free to share them in our comments section below!

Salary Negotiation Tips to Protect Your Interests

Salary negotiationSalary negotiation is a topic that comes up pretty frequently in blogs and online forums, but often times the tips and takeaways are forgotten once candidates enter into the interview and job offer stages. But ironically, these are the most important times to keep salary negotiation tips in mind!

To make it easy for you to negotiate the fairest salary and compensation packages, I’ll cut right to the chase—here are top tips to help you:

  • Don’t avoid salary negotiation. It may not be in your personality to bring up salary or compensation, but it is an integral part of your total job offer package, and it could affect your long-term job satisfaction down the road. If you feel that you’re not being fairly treated in the market, you should absolutely bring up salary and compensation. In my years of experience, I have never found a situation where an offer was withdrawn because of negotiation—so don’t be afraid to bring it up!
  • Don’t reference your personal life. Avoid mentioning reasons you may need more money, or involving anything other than your professional background into the salary negotiation process. Asking for a higher salary to pay your bills may be honest, but it’s unprofessional and will only serve to portray you in a negative light. Keep it strictly professional when negotiating your compensation package.
  • Do your homework. It is important to avoid thinking “I deserve more,” and then jumping into salary negotiation. Instead, prepare for negotiation well before that part of the process is even entered. Know what the market is paying for your specific skill set, education and experience—this is critical. Websites like recruiter.com or salary.com will give you an idea of the salary range most closely associated with your background, experience and geographic location. It is imperative that you sound professional and educated when entering into salary negotiation—and employers will respect you for it.
  • Think beyond salary. Obviously, salary is an important aspect of your total compensation package. It’s how you pay your bills, after all! But there are other factors that can dramatically affect your job satisfaction and increase your overall compensation—and these factors can also be negotiated. Some examples include: a signing bonus, relocation package, performance-based bonuses, vacation time, higher employer-paid benefits, flexible schedules and more. Look at your total compensation before making a decision to accept the job.
  • Wait (if you can). You have the “upper hand” if you can wait to discuss salary until an employer is emotionally invested in you. Ideally, you have interviewed and have been made an offer as the salary negotiation part of the process begins. But sometimes that just isn’t possible. Some employers will bring up salary from the very beginning—don’t shy away from answering any questions, as it could disqualify you from moving forward in the process. Instead, offer a range. Presenting a range early on does not preclude you from negotiating when you receive the offer.

Keep these tips in mind when you enter into your next job interview or salary negotiation, and you’ll be prepared to aim for the fairest compensation package possible. If you need help finding the right IT position to help you reach your goals, give us a call.

Mobile Apps for Job Seekers

What job search tools do you use? Maybe you partner with a recruiter, peruse job boards, and go to networking events…these are all great job search tools that make a big impact on your career. But, what about using mobile apps?

Choosing the Right Mobile Apps for Job Seekers Can Make All the Difference

There are an increasing number of mobile apps you can add to your current range of job search tools. To help you weed through the thousands of available mobile apps, several members of the MAKE team took some top apps for a test drive. Here’s what we found (all of these mobile apps are free downloads from the iTunes App Store):

CV/Resume Lite
CV Resume Lite - mobile app for job seekersBilled as a tool to help job seekers create a professional resume, CV/Resume Lite has a simple interface, allowing for easy navigation within the mobile app. The templates feature is one of the great job search tools for someone who hasn’t created a resume in awhile. Specifically, it allows you to plug in your personal information; then the app creates a basic resume using one of its templates.

Unfortunately, the app is too generic for job seekers with advanced skills or who have experience creating and updating their resume. Particularly in IT, where the ability to highlight specific projects, skills and expertise is critical to catching the eye of recruiters.

Overall, our Liz Hesse found that this could be a valuable addition to the tools of young job seekers or for those professionals who haven’t created a resume recently, with the caveat that it is extremely basic. Otherwise, most IT professionals should go elsewhere to create an effective resume.

Interview Prep Questions
Interview Prep Questions - mobile app for job seekersInterview Prep Questions features a unique “flash card” interface to help job seekers prepare for many popular interview questions. Our Diana Jacklin found the app extremely easy to use, and loved that users can create their own favorites list of questions to focus on for interview preparation. She noted; however, that the variety of questions could be a bit wider to allow for better preparation and exposure to more intricate interview questions.

One of the best features of this app is its convenience. Job seekers can calm their nerves by brushing up and practicing right before an interview. You can take a few minutes to review common questions in the car before heading in for the interview — helping to relax you so that you’ll be more confident. Finally, Diana likes the information that’s available in this app.

While there could be more questions, the questions that are provided are thoughtful, and “flipping” the flash card offers you some helpful guidance for answering the question. This app could be a nice, free resource for any professional looking to boost his or her confidence before an interview.

LinkUp
LinkUp - mobile app for job seekersA newer entry into the job board fray, LinkUp is both a website and an app that focuses on direct postings from companies (rather than sourcing job posts from other boards). MAKE’s Jenna Dillon and Caitlin Dobson took LinkUp for a spin. Both thought that the app was convenient and easy to use; however, both had difficulty finding accurate search results using the criteria in the app. In particular, featured postings seemed to “hog” the search results. Additional results weren’t always accurate to the search criteria used.

Our team thinks this app could be a convenient way to continue your job search while you have a few minutes to spare; however, the inaccurate search results may affect the time savings from using the app. Additional time savings can be found by avoiding unique searches on every company website — you’ll find postings from many top companies, including unadvertised job posts (according to LinkUp) in one place.

Overall, this app can be a good tool for finding jobs directly with top companies; however, beware the quality of search results — you may have to do a little digging to find the right opportunities.

Are there any mobile apps in your job search tool kit? Have you created a CV or resume using an app? We’d love to hear your stories — feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Your 2012 Workplace Holiday Survival Guide

Work holiday partyImagine an exciting holiday party in a locale off the beaten path. You’re enjoying the festivities with your coworkers, including a live band playing holiday music and a team of dancers teaching everyone the Macarena, when suddenly one of your coworkers catches your eye. A typically quiet kind of guy, he is quiet no longer. This coworker tears off his shirt, jumps onto the stage, and hijacks the festivities with his own…unique…take. Although not what you expected, it certainly became a holiday party to remember!

Have you ever been in this situation? Or something like it? It’s a safe bet that many of us have been to a holiday party where one or two coworkers may be enjoying the party a bit…more…than others.

The holidays can be a busy, stressful time in our personal lives while we shop for gifts and get ready for the deluge of holiday parties and family, but they don’t have to be stressful in the workplace. With that in mind, I present you with the MAKE 2012 Workplace Holiday Survival Guide—a post dedicated to helping you maximize this time of year and enjoy the festivities that come with it.

Holiday Parties

Tips for Employers
Holiday parties can be a great opportunity to enjoy yourself a bit. Here are a few tips for employers:

  • Parties are a nice treat for your employees, and don’t make a huge dent in your costs. Consider closing your office early the day of yours so they can get ready and have enough time to get there.
  • Also, consider holding your holiday party on a weeknight. Knowing that they have to get up for work in the morning will help keep employees from enjoying themselves too much.
  • Another tip to help keep people from going a little overboard on the alcohol involves timing of the open bar, if you provide one. If your party starts early, say around 3 or 4pm, close the bar by 7 or 8pm so that they have enough time to clear their heads before the party ends.
  • Depending on the size of your business, consider using assigned seats for your team at the party. It can be a great way to get people who don’t normally interact to learn more about each other. It can also prevent workplace cliques from isolating themselves from other employees.

Tips for Employees
Okay, employees at all levels of the organization, here are some behavior tips to help make your holiday party enjoyable for everyone:

  • Have a great time—a light, joking atmosphere is important at holiday parties. Feel free to let your guard down a bit, but keep in mind that you are still at a workplace function. Conduct yourself accordingly (remember, you’re not with your college buddies—these are still your coworkers!).
  • Remember, what happens at the holiday party doesn’t always stay at the holiday party! One bad move could end up being water cooler fodder for months (or longer), so keep your head on straight and remember that your actions at the holiday party may have ramifications down the road.
  • Mingle with people you may not normally work with, and use this to your advantage! Most people are relaxed at holiday parties, so take the opportunity to talk to people you don’t ordinarily see every day. Members of the leadership team are of particular interest here—a quick conversation about your goals and successes with your boss’ boss could mean you are top of mind when the next promotion comes up!

Holiday Gifts

Every office is different when it comes to holiday gifts, but these tips can help you navigate the sometimes murky gift-giving waters:

  • If you’re new to your current employer, ask around to see what everyone does for holiday gifts. Small offices may do a gift exchange or they may give small gifts to everyone.
  • For employers, try to keep gift exchanges within reason, understanding that certain spending limits can apply to people.
  • Consider offering a “white elephant” gift, something kooky from your home (or that you’ve found elsewhere) that could make a funny gag gift for one of your coworkers. The expressions when people open some of these gifts can be incredibly funny, and it’s a great stress-buster.

The holidays don’t have to be a stressful time in your office. Hopefully these tips will help you navigate the season with ease. Do you have any interesting workplace holiday stories to share? We’d love to hear about them—let us know in the comments section below.

Using LinkedIn? Okay, But Are You Using It Correctly?

If you’re looking for your next job opportunity, LinkedIn is a great resource. Searches for job openings have increased dramatically on the site within the past few years, as it has become a standard practice for recruiters and HR managers to use the tool to find great talent. But are you ready to be “found?” Simply having a profile isn’t enough. To put it bluntly, an incomplete profile can hurt you. So let’s make sure your profile doesn’t fall into that “incomplete” category!

Using LinkedIn CorrectlyYou might be wondering what, if any, impact your LinkedIn profile can have on your job prospects and career. I can confidently state that it can have a large impact! Recently, I met with a young IT professional who had very little on-the-job experience, but was still a good match for the client. I submitted him for a position where he was competing with 30 other candidates (many of whom had more experience) for consideration.

I sent his LinkedIn profile to the employer with a note about his highly recommended status. This young professional had a great, professional photo, several recommendations and a well thought out and put together profile. He was chosen for the job, and I have no doubt that his LinkedIn profile helped him stand out from the other 30 candidates. His profile magnified his skills and accomplishments, presenting him to the employer in the best possible light.

With LinkedIn, it’s really important to get the basics right before you begin digging deeper into the site. I personally use LinkedIn regularly—for networking with colleagues and clients, as well as connecting with former classmates and peers. It’s a great tool that adds significant value to my career, but before I got serious about using LinkedIn, I ironed out the basics. Here’s a rundown to get your LinkedIn profile going:

  1. Complete your profile entirely. Have you ever logged into LinkedIn only to see that little bar telling you that your profile is “[Insert number] complete?” It can be kind of tedious to add a ton of information, but it’s really important, so take the time to do it right. Plus, when you log in and finally see that “100% Complete” bar, you’ll feel a nice sense of accomplishment.
  2. Look good, in your profile picture. You do have a profile picture, right? To make a “connection” with people on LinkedIn, a professional photograph is important. Avoid family pictures or posting a fun picture of your latest vacation—that’s for Facebook, not LinkedIn. Instead, choose one that’s cropped well and portrays you in a personable, professional manner. Having the right LinkedIn profile photo will help recruiters get a feeling for you as a person—and hopefully as an employee.
  3. Optimize your profile. It’ll help recruiters and HR managers find you, and it’ll also be more pleasant for people who are checking out your profile (that’s your goal, isn’t it?). Use bullet points in your job descriptions to organize your accomplishments and format the information so it’s easy to read. Be sure to use a vanity profile URL instead of the generic numbers-based that LinkedIn assigns you, and share relevant content with your connections regularly. More tips for optimizing your profile can be found here.
  4. Keywords are your friend. Your LinkedIn profile is more than a resume you submit to potential employers. It’s a tool recruiters will use to find you. So, make it easy for them to find you! Complete the skills and specialties areas on your profile with industry-relevant keywords. Be sure all your job titles and education are filled in appropriately. At a bare minimum, add several keywords to each section. You’ll be competing against people with multiple bullet points, skills and connections. Don’t start out at a disadvantage by not fully utilizing what your profile has to offer. In particular, pay attention to the “summary” and “specialties” sections, which have ample opportunity for keyword optimization. This resource will also provide you with more LinkedIn keyword tips.
  5. Start “connecting.” Without connections, your LinkedIn profile won’t be working nearly as hard as it should be. Reach out to school alumni, coworkers and former coworkers, clients and other educational and professional contacts. Most importantly, be sure to connect with recruiters. Remember, when you connect with someone on LinkedIn, you’re also connecting with their entire network. When someone searches for specific keywords (your profile should now be keyword-optimized), people in their network will show up first. So, start “connecting,” and start getting yourself to the top of those search results. Use connections wisely when preparing for interviews as well. Research companies and their employees before an interview to see if you have any connections in the hiring manager’s network. If you do, use that connection (that’s what LinkedIn is all about!). As this article from Forbes shares, avoid bombarding a connection with your resume, but instead compliment her and her company, and ask if she’d be willing to answer some questions about her job and company. Building some rapport with connections will help them become your ally when applying for jobs.

Now that your LinkedIn profile is setup and optimized, you can take your presence on the site to the next level. Here are some tips for using LinkedIn more effectively:

  • Get active in groups. LinkedIn groups can be pretty intimidating, right? You’re in a virtual room of strangers, trying to stand out and make an impression. Joining and being active in groups that are relevant to your area of specialty (as well as any alumni or area-specific groups) can be a significant boost to your online presence and reputation. I know it can be intimidating to jump in and start posting in a group, but it’s critical to promoting yourself. Put in your two cents—don’t be nervous! Whether you start out with a short comment on someone else’s post, or you start your own discussion, you’ll be building relationships and making meaningful contributions. Also, be on the lookout: in specialty-specific groups, members may post job openings before they’re open to the general public!
  • Find opportunities for recommendations. LinkedIn recommendations are a virtual stamp of approval from former bosses, clients or coworkers. Plus, many recruiters will use these as a written reference. They can even be used in lieu of a reference check. Many recruiters will forward your LinkedIn recommendations (or a link to your profile) directly to a prospective employer as a way of showing off your great skills! A quick note to a former boss or coworker is a great way to get the ball rolling on recommendations. Don’t be shy, get out there and ask. These tips can help you ask for recommendations in an appropriate manner.

Finally, focus on the interview. Setting up a professional, complete LinkedIn profile is critical to your job search success. But, once it has been set up, be sure to focus on your interviews. Don’t be distracted by trying to connect with people at your prospective employers. If you receive a request to connect with hiring managers, you can certainly accept. But don’t bombard prospective employers with requests when you should be focusing on the interview process. Then after you get and complete your interview, make sure you follow up the right way.

So there you have it, steps you can use to get started on LinkedIn, plus some tips to help you get the most out of the site. Are you ready to get started?

Do you have a LinkedIn success story? Share it with us in the comments below—we’d love to hear them!

Don’t Be A Pest – How to Follow Up After A Job Interview

You’ve polished your resume, crafted a superior cover letter and prepared for the job interview. Now what? Following up with the interviewer can be an effective way to stay top of mind and solidify your position as a top candidate. However, following up inappropriately can hurt your chances of landing the job.

As the quality manager and senior recruiter here at MAKE, I work with our recruiting team to ensure they have the information they need to match the right people to the right positions. My role is also dedicated to providing better service to our internal employees, candidates and clients. I’ve been a part of the MAKE team for over seven years, and have 16 years of industry experience. I’ve met with hundreds of candidates and seen my share of effective and not-so-effective follow-ups.Executive writing

Following up appropriately is key
There is a wide range of advice available for following up after a job interview, but here I’d like to focus on the primary form of post-interview follow-up: thank you emails. While hand-written notes have been suggested in the past, today’s busy professionals vastly prefer emails. Crafting an effective thank you email can set you apart from other candidates and help you land your next permanent or contract position. These 5 tips can help you use them more effectively:

  • Send it quickly. Don’t wait to send your thank you email; aim to have it in the prospective employer’s inbox within 24 hours of your interview. If you wait any longer, you could risk missing the decision-making window. The goal is to follow up and solidify a positive impression before any type of discussion or decision is made.
  • Don’t just say “Thanks.” Take the time to really write your email. Don’t go overboard (especially since interviewers and hiring managers are often bombarded with emails), but take an extra one or two sentences to mention key points from your interview, show how you address their specific need and remind them of why you’re a fit. The thank you message is literally your last chance to sell yourself—take advantage of that opportunity!
  • Write it well. I cannot stress this enough: please take the time to craft a well written thank you message. You could be the brightest IT professional out there, but if you send a poorly written email it will effectively end your chances of landing that job. Misspellings, choppy sentences or sending a template email are key mistakes I have seen. Try asking a friend to read through the content first or read it out loud to ensure it sounds good before you hit ‘send’. And don’t forget to spell-check. It can make a big difference!
  • Only send one. We call it an interview follow-up, not follow-ups. Send one email and sit back. Any more than one and you are officially being a pest. It may sound harsh, but you only have one chance to make an impression on an interviewer—make it count. Remember, your prospective employer wants to hire someone as much as you want the job. If you bombard them with multiple messages (notes, calls and emails all count here), you will make a lasting impression—but not the kind you want to make. Craft a well-written note, send it and then move forward on other opportunities. Hopefully, you’ll get the call with an offer! But, you can rest in knowing you’ve done all you can do to highlight yourself for the position.
  • Go directly to the source. Unless your recruiter or consulting firm requires it, send your thank you message directly to the prospective employer and not to your recruiter. Sending it directly to the employer ensures they receive it in a timely manner and that it does not get lost in the shuffle of paperwork.

We take great pride here at MAKE in matching you with the right opportunities to meet your goals. If you’re looking for your next contract or permanent IT job, our job board hosts all our current opportunities.