Monthly Archives: March 2015

They Laughed When I Got Up to Dance

When I’m meeting someone for the first time and I have to describe myself, I say I’m a cross between Spanky and John Belushi.  Or, I’ll say it’s not easy being follicly, vertically, and circumferentially challenged.  So, when I head out to the dance floor I always get a few stares once I hit my groove and bust a move.  Then, I’m more like Re-Run from the 1970’s sitcom ‘What’s Happenin’.
re-run dancing
This takes me to my point:
Before you ever open your mouth (and start dancing) people will form opinions about you.  It’s inevitable.  We make snap judgments about others.
So, it’s critical that you realize how your communication (your actions and behavior) set the tone for how people form that ever important first impression of you.  Specifically, we communicate the following three ways:
1. Verbally;
2. The written word; and
3. Non-verbal / body language
Following are some simple yet often overlooked strategies you can begin implementing, to be seen as a professional “rock star” to make a positive first impression and build a strong brand right from the get go.  While you may consider these strategies for personal etiquette (and I’d agree) these are also effective for building trust in people you wish to work with/for.
1. Honor Your Commitments: The other day, I invited an acquaintance to speak at an upcoming panel I am hosting for my MeetUp.  I needed a prompt response and they committed to give a reply by yesterday.  I did not hear back so, I had to call and leave a message.  NOT GOOD.
2. Say “Thank You:” Last week, I made an email introduction between two leaders of separate and competing business networking groups I have been involved with.  I thought they might benefit from doing a cross-group networking event.  One of them responded that he was not interested, as he felt it was a conflict of interest.  When I explained I understood but was also introducing them on a more direct personal level, there was no response.  REALLY NOT GOOD.
It’s a really great practice to get into.  Send a handwritten Thank You note to people for doing things for you.  It’s a lost art.  No one sends notes so this will really distinguish you.
3. Avoid the “Hi, How Am I”: When you first meet someone at an event, does it bother you when that person spends the entire time speaking about themselves?  It’s rude, self-centered and a MAJOR turn off.   You want to be able to tell them just enough about yourself but also ask questions.  As my wife tells me all the time, people LOVE talking about themselves.  Be sure to ask pointed questions that show you’ve done research about them in advance and show you’re listening.  They’ll come away with a very positive first impression if you ask questions about them and show a genuine interest in their challenges and needs.
4. Speak Thine Thespian Self: Nothing is worse than coming across as uneducated.  Don’t speak in slang.  Use proper grammar, avoid slurs, and try not to speak negatively about others.
5. Dress The Part: Understand your audience and dress UP or DOWN based on the situation.  Wearing a suit (dressing ultra conservatively) may work for a group of attorneys or accountants, but not for artists and designers.  Sure there’s a saying: “To thine own self be true” but it’s even more important to set people at ease.  It’s the fashion equivalent of applying a “mirroring” technique.  Let your professionalism and subject matter expertise set you apart and convey your Unique Value Proposition.
Speaking of setting yourself apart…

purple cow

To learn how to set yourself apart from the pack (Herd) see Seth Godin’s PURPLE COW.
6. Look At Me!:  One of the rudest things you can do is look away from others while you’re speaking to them.  Maintain eye contact at all times.  This will show you care about them and what they have to say.
So just a quick checklist.   What do you think?
Here’s to your continued success in 2015.
– Ethan

Why Recruiters Are Hated So Much

First, allow me to begin by saying I began my career as a recruiter working for a national staffing agency based in Washington, DC.
Further, this is not meant to demean recruiters.  Rather, I’d like to challenge the industry to shift their focus (and approach their jobs) differently by considering the needs of the job seeker when they match candidates to the clients they are recruiting on behalf of.
Now that I have spent six years as a career coach and executive placement professional helping 12,000 job seekers find employment, I would like to share my observations and personal experiences on why recruiters are hated and fast becoming an obsolete service.
It begins with the fundamental role that recruiters serve…they build bridges between two parties with opposite and often conflicting needs and interests.
wooden peg game
Recruiters are engaged by and compensated by organizations that pay them to find candidates.  A recruiter thus has a vested interest in finding the right candidate(s) to their client for the right position.  They take a wack-the-peg -in-the-hole approach.  Remember that game we played as kids?  Wooden peg board, different shaped holes you had a hammer and tried to hammer each shaped peg into the matching shaped hole.   When you try to force the wrong peg into the wrong hole, you scrape your fingers, the peg gets stuck, you break the hammer, and end up throwing the board away in frustration.
They do not make much if any attempt to understand and work towards the career aspirations, goals, wants and needs of the candidate.  If they can find three qualified candidates to send to their client, that is fine.  If they can find SEVEN qualified candidates, then the more the merrier.
The end game is for recruiters to look as good as possible to their clients.  After all, it’s the client that pays the recruiter…not the candidate.
Nowadays, recruiters make almost NO effort to understand the needs of candidates, nor do they care at all if the candidate’s work preferences, values, and needs are fulfilled by the organization they send the candidate to.  Then there is the small matter of recruiters hardly ever getting back to the candidate, to let them know what the status of their candidacy is once the client decides they are NOT interested in the candidate.
I have received hundreds of emails from recruiters informing me of a position that does not match my career goals, needs, or where I am at this point in my career. They always request that I forward their job posting to any people I might know that would be ideal for the position.  So, in a very real sense recruiters are abrogating their job by asking job seekers to do their work for them.
Further, many recruiting functions are being outsourced to foreign workers. How insulting is it for a long-term unemployment job seekers to receive a call from someone who works overseas and barely speaks English as a second language on behalf of a client?  With the Internet and social media clients can accomplish much of the same candidate vetting and hiring processes that used to be handled by recruiters.
If you are a recruiter I strongly suggest you go back to the drawing board and understand that the candidate – that other side of the matching equation —truly matters and although they do not pay for your services, in the long run will determine how happy the client is that you send these candidates to.